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Allied Arts records

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Allied Arts

Scope and Content of the Collection

Administrative and bookkeeping records, box office records, clippings, fliers, programs, and photographs relating to ballet, opera, and the Allied Arts Corporation. Also includes some personal items (such as awards) for Harry and Sarah Zelzer.

Administrative files include official documents and an incomplete run of Board minutes, plus correspondence and other materials relating to the operations of planning concerts in Chicago and elsewhere. Financial records include a ledger from the pre-Zelzer era, scattered financial statements, and tax information. Ticket Sales are the box office records for each concert, with additional material such as contracts and correspondence sprinkled in. Publicity includes both clippings about Allied Arts and reviews of concerts, and also all of the fliers and programs issued by Allied Arts to promote the concerts. Photographs are divided into two subseries: The first pre-dates the Zelzer management of Allied Arts and include rare images of productions in Chicago and New York of opera and dance companies. The second subseries is of the Zelzers with famous people and friends, and promotional shots of artists.


  • Creation: 1913-1997



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Allied Arts records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Allied Arts records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

History of Allied Arts Corporation

Chicago area booking agency for classical music attractions, concerts, opera, ballet, and recitals from 1940 to 1990.

Allied Arts Corporation, originally founded in 1940 by Warren E. Thompson and Edgar L. Goldsmith, was purchased by impresario Harry Zelzer, who had been one of their competitors, in 1948. Allied Arts after that was fully managed by Zelzer and his wife Sarah Schectman Zelzer until right before Harry Zelzer's death in 1979. Harry Zelzer had been booking classical music in New York and Chicago since the early 1930s. Sarah Zelzer wrote her memoirs (called Impresario) about her and her husband, which was published in 1990. Sarah Zelzer died in 1998.

For concert pianists and violinists, classical guitarists, visiting orchestras, touring dance companies, and opera stars, the Allied Arts Corporation was the Chicago company to work with, especially in the heyday from the 1950s through the 1970s. The Zelzers booked international stars of opera, ballet, dance, and classical music in Chicago, with some forays into pop and jazz (including, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, The Kingston Trio, and Benny Goodman). They booked such famous stars as Andres Segovia, Vladimir Horowitz, Isaac Stern, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Glenn Gould. Dance companies represented include the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Sadler's Wells Ballet (now Royal Ballet), American Ballet Theatre, Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Notably, they also booked African-American opera singers such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, and Leontyne Price, early in their careers. The Zelzers booked at the major venues in Chicago, including the Auditorium Theatre, Orchestra Hall, the Civic Opera House, and the Arie Crown Theatre, as well as some theaters in surrounding areas.

In 1978 the Zelzers gave the series they built to the Orchestral Association, the managing organization of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. However, in the 1980s Sarah Zelzer resumed management responsibilities for the series for a short time. After 1990 the series evolved into CSO Presents and then Symphony Center Presents, both of which were managed by the Orchestral Association.


27.3 Linear Feet (54 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, and 12 volumes)


Clippings, artist correspondence, box office records, concert programs, and photographs of the Allied Arts Corporation. Allied Arts Corporation management was taken over by Harry and Sarah Zelzer in 1948 and became the premier agency for bringing performing artists to Chicago. Important artists and groups include the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, pianists Vladimir Horowitz and Glenn Gould, and singers Tito Schipa and Judy Garland. Collection also includes original photographs taken in venues in Chicago and New York from the late 1930s to the early 1940s.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Administrative, 1928-1997
Boxes 1-5
Series 2: Financial, 1940-1984
Boxes 5-9
Series 3: Ticket Sales, 1950-1989
Boxes 10-30
Series 4: Publicity, 1935-1997
Boxes 31-37, Volumes 1-6
Series 5: Photographs, 1913-1997
Boxes 38-54
Series 6: Oversize, 1942-1995
Boxes 55-56, Volumes 7-12

Collection Stack Location

1 2 2-3


Gift, Sarah Schectman Zelzer, 1991.

Processed by

Leslie Osterberg, 2010; Alison Hinderliter and Analú Maria López, 2016.

Inventory of the Allied Arts records, 1913-1997
Analú Maria López
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States