Selections from the Tanner Papers

Allen C. Tanner (1898-1987) was an Illinois-born pianist. At fifteen he was awarded a scholarship to study music in Chicago where he met Margaret Anderson, founder of the Little Review. Tanner then moved to New York City where he performed in musical salons and accompanied many musical greats of the era. In 1922, Tanner left for Berlin, where he met Russian artist Pavel Tchelitchew and the two men became lovers. In 1924 the pair moved to Paris to pursue their artistic careers, and became great friends with Gertrude Stein and Edith Sitwell. When Tanner and Tchelitchew ended their relationship in 1934, Tanner returned to the United States. In 1967 he released the album Allen Tanner Plays Bach, Debussy, Scriabin, Granados, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Steinert.

The collection contains correspondence, writings, programs and publicity, news clippings, financial documents, sheet music, sound recordings, photographs, and books. Some of that material has been digitized and is available below. For more information about Tanner and the entire collection, please see this post and the collection inventory.

Tanner Portrait Marguerite Namara Marguerite D'Alvarez Tanner Sisters Wedding Tanner at Beach Tanner New York Thamara Swirskaya Tchelitchew Painting Tanner with Tchetlichew Hewin Field Tanner with Anderson Tanner with Sitwell Anderson Scrapbook

Browse Selections from the Tanner Papers

St. Francis ballet program
circa 1939

This program is for the St. Francis ballet. Pavel Tchelitchew is listed as the set and costume designer.

Location: MC 2013.3, B4, F62

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Memorabilia and Ephemera

Time Period: 1920-1939

View Item: PDF icon St. Francis ballet program

"In the Federal ballet program…" Chicago Sunday Tribune newspaper clipping
March 19, 1939

This news clipping describes a costume owned by Allen Tanner, and worn by Bentley Stone in the Federal ballet program at the Blackstone theater....

"Front Views and Profiles" by June Provines, Chicago Tribune newspaper clipping
January 4, 1941

This news clipping from the Chicago Tribune highlights American pianist Allen Tanner and Austrian composer Ernst Krenek.

This...

"Corridor of Genius" by Allen Tanner
September 1950

In this essay, Allen Tanner describes living in New York City and meeting famous musicians of the early 20th century including Paul Kochanski,...

Location: MC 2013.3, B4, F38

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Essays and Dissertations

Time Period: 1940-1959

View Item: PDF icon "Corridor of Genius" by Allen Tanner

Letter from Allen Tanner to Kirk Askew
circa 1957

In this letter Allen Tanner writes to Kirk Askew, owner of Durlacher Bros. art gallery, after Tchelitchew's death. Tanner recalls Tchelitchew's...

Location: MC 2013.3, B1, F7

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Letters/Correspondence

Time Period: 1940-1959

View Item: PDF icon Letter from Allen Tanner to Kirk Askew

Letter from Allen Tanner to Morris Fish
September 29, 1957

Allen Tanner writes to Morris Fish regarding obtaining his Pavel Tchelitchew paintings from Europe.

Location: MC 2013.3, B1, F30

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Letters/Correspondence

Time Period: 1940-1959

View Item: PDF icon Letter from Allen Tanner to Morris Fish

Notes on Friendship with Gertrude Stein by Allen Tanner
Undated

Allen Tanner reminisces about his friendships with Gertude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Pavel Tchelitchew. Transcript included.

Location: MC 2013.3, B4, F37

Subject: Literary Pursuits

Format: Notes and Notebooks

Time Period:

View Item: PDF icon Notes on Friendship with Gertrude Stein by Allen Tanner

Letter from Allen Tanner to Morris Fish
April 22, 1960

Allen Tanner writes to Morris Fish asking for his advice regarding obtaining his artwork by Pavel Tchelitchew from Europe.

Location: MC 2013.3, B1, F30

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Letters/Correspondence

Time Period: 1960-1979

View Item: PDF icon Letter from Allen Tanner to Morris Fish

"The Early Tchelitchew" by Allen Tanner
1963

In this draft for an exhibit brochure, Allen Tanner describes Pavel Tchelitchew's early career in painting and theatrical design, in the 1920s and...

Location: MC 2013.3, B4, F42

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Essays and Dissertations

Time Period: 1960-1979

View Item: PDF icon "The Early Tchelitchew" by Allen Tanner

Letter from Allen Tanner to Parker Tyler
1964

In this draft letter, Allen Tanner writes to author Parker Tyler, promising to provide him with information and photos of Pavel Tchelitchew and...

Consignment between Allen Tanner and Brentano’s of New York City
March 10, 1964

Allen Tanner records the Pavel Tchelitchew artwork he is consigning to Bretano's of New York City for exhibition and sale. Each entry includes an...

Supplementary Consignment between Allen Tanner and Brentano’s of New York City
April 3, 1964

Allen Tanner records the additional Pavel Tchelitchew artwork he is consigning to Brentano's of New York City for sale. Each entry includes an...

"About the Pianist" by Allen Tanner
1967

Allen Tanner writes a brief autobiography for the liner notes of his 1967 album Allen Tanner Plays Bach, Debussy, Scriabin, Granados,...

Location: MC 2013.13 B4, F39

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Essays and Dissertations

Time Period: 1960-1979

View Item: PDF icon "About the Pianist" by Allen Tanner

1967

This is a clip of pianist Allen Tanner's rendition of Alexander Scriabin's Deux Poemes, Op. 32, no. 2 from his album.

Postcard advertisement for Allen Tanner Plays Bach, Debussy, Scriabin, Granados, Rachmaninoff, Steinert
1967

This postcard is an advertisement for Allen Tanner's 1967 album Allen Tanner Plays Bach, Debussy, Scriabin, Granados, Rachmaninoff, Steinert...

1967

This clip is from pianist Allen Tanner's rendition of Alexander Scriabin's Deux Poemes, Op. 32, no. 1 from his 1967 album. 

Letter from Allen Tanner to Dick Fletcher
April 8, 1975

In this letter to Dick Fletcher, Allen Tanner writes about opera singer Mary Garden for a biography project. He describes meeting Garden in...

Location: MC 2013.3, B1, F31

Subject: Visual and Performing Arts

Format: Letters/Correspondence

Time Period: 1960-1979

View Item: PDF icon Letter from Allen Tanner to Dick Fletcher

Letter from Allen Tanner to Janet Figler
June 13, 1976

In this letter to Janet Figler, mother of donor Liz Hamill Howard, Allen Tanner writes that he no longer gives piano lessons due to ongoing health...

Letter from Allen Tanner to Elizabeth Hamill
July 25, 1977

In this letter to Liz Hamill Howard, Allen Tanner describes where he purchased an Alexander Scriabin album, and offers advice to Hamilll Howard on...

Letter from Judith B. Jones to Allen Tanner
May 9, 1980

Judith B. Jones writes to Allen Tanner regarding a biography of Edith Sitwell written by Victoria Glendinning.

Location: MC 2013.3, B1, F43

Subject: Literary Pursuits

Format: Letters/Correspondence

Time Period: 1980-1999

View Item: PDF icon Letter from Judith B. Jones to Allen Tanner

Letter from Allen Tanner to Victoria Glendinning
May 26, 1980

Allen Tanner writes to Victoria Glendinning regarding her biography on Edith Sitwell, and expresses his disappointment that Glendinning did not...

Location: MC 2013.3, B1, F43

Subject: Literary Pursuits

Format: Letters/Correspondence

Time Period: 1980-1999

View Item: PDF icon Letter from Allen Tanner to Victoria Glendinning

Letter from Allen Tanner to Victoria Glendinning
July 30, 1980

In this letter to author Victoria Glendinning, Allen Tanner writes about his and Pavel Tchelitchew's friendship with English poet Edith Sitwell,...

Letter from Allen Tanner to Victoria Glendinning
December 2, 1980

In this letter, Allen Tanner writes that he is displeased with how author Victoria Glendinning has characterized him in her biography of English...

Letter from Robert Tanner to Allen Tanner
November 9, 1984

In this letter to his Uncle Allen Tanner, Robert Tanner describes his genealogical research and reconnection with distant family members....

"Syzmanowski a Step Nearer Place in the Sun" by Cecil Smith, Chicago Daily Tribune newspaper clipping
Undated

This news clipping describes a performance by Chicago pianist Wanda Paul of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski's symphony. Allen Tanner is listed...

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