Blog

WEBSTER BOOTH/ANNE ZIEGLER AWARDS AT ROYAL NORTHERN COLLEGE OF MUSIC, MANCHESTER

 










Webster Booth (1957)

The first time I heard of plans to establish a scholarship in Webster Booth’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music was in a letter from Anne Ziegler, dated 20 November 1985, just over a year after Webster Booth’s death on 21 June 1984.
In a letter, Anne mentioned that a coffee morning had been held in the local church hall in aid of the Webster Booth Memorial Fund. Jean Buckley, Anne and Webster’s friend and fan of 42 years standing had proposed the idea of providing a scholarship in Webster’s name for a tenor to attend the RNCM for a year’s post-graduate study. Jean worked hard to raise money for the Fund and by the time Anne wrote to me £1,600 had been raised towards the initial goal of £3,500. Anne’s letter continued, “The place was packed – which delighted us. Everyone local turned up and it was a great success and we raised £400 towards the Fund.”
I wondered why the scholarship was to be awarded at the RNCM as Webster had studied singing with Dr Richard Wassall at the Midland Institute in Birmingham, fitting in lessons after he finished work at a firm of accountants. I knew that conductor Sir Charles Groves was chairman of the RNCM council at that time and Webster had often referred to him affectionately as “Charlie Groves” who had often conducted him in radio broadcasts, so I though that perhaps this was why Jean had chosen the RNCM for the Award.
Many years later, Jean Buckley told me why she had chosen the RNCM. In her late teens she had studied singing part-time at the Northern School of Music, Manchester. This school and the Royal Manchester College of Music amalgamated in 1975 to form the Royal Northern College of Music, which was producing singing graduates of a very high calibre. Manchester was not too far from North Wales where Anne, Jean and her husband, Maurice lived. The trip to the College for the annual competition would not be too onerous for Anne and it would not be necessary to stay overnight in the city after the Award had been presented.







 


 

Anne and Bonnie with Jean and Maurice Buckley on holiday in the nineties.

 

 

In 1985 Jean wrote to The Stage, as follows:

“Close friends and relations of the late Webster Booth are anxious to provide a yearly scholarship for a tenor student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Any admirers of Webster Booth and the contribution he made to music world, who wish to join in this tribute, can send cheques or money orders to the Webster Booth Memorial Fund….Llandudno, Gwynedd.”
There was little response to her letter, but, undaunted, she continued to raise funds by making things to sell, doing clothing alterations for a small fee, organising raffles, and collecting donations to the Fund from friends, fans, relatives of Webster and Anne, and local neighbours. Donations were often as little as £1 or £2, but occasionally bigger donations were made by societies such as the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. Webster’s older brother, Edwin Norman Booth, his wife Annie and daughter Margaret took great interest in the progress of the Fund and helped Jean with fund-raising. Annie made beautiful rag dolls to sell, and each member of the family made regular substantial donations. Jean’s early singing training at the Northern College also benefited the Fund in a round-about way. She and her accompanist, Maureen, began entertaining at hotels around Llandudno and all the money Jean earned in this way went towards the fund. To publicise the Award she gave talks to various societies and clubs about Anne and Webster’s career.
South Africa’s prime minister, P. W. Botha’s disappointing “Rubicon” speech saw the South African Rand rapidly lose value, but my husband and I were determined to make a donation although Anne discouraged me from doing so. Our R100 realised nearly £30 in 1986. At the time we thought the Rand was worthless but now, in 2017, R100 would exchange at less than £6!
Sir David Scott had been the British Ambassador to South Africa in the 1970s and Anne and Webster had been invited to the Embassy in Cape Town with the Kings’ Singers after one of their concerts. Brian Kay had persuaded them to sing The Keys of Heaven to his accompaniment at the gathering.
In the meantime, a friend of the Buckleys, music critic, John Robert Blunn suggested that they should contact the Palace Theatre, Manchester, managed by Bob Scott – later Sir Bob Scott – the son of Sir David. In turn, Sir Bob sent Mrs Buckley’s letter on to his father. Not only did Sir David make a generous personal donation but the New Moorgate Trust, a charitable fund based in London, which he managed, made a donation of £5000.00, giving a welcome boost to the Fund. Sir Bob also suggested that Jean should contact the Granada Trust and this Trust made a donation of £1000.00. Companies and deceased estates made substantial donations, including Lloyds Bank, N Smith Charitable Settlement, Tom Chandley Limited, and the Estate of Mary Paine. The Bramley Trust gave a generous donation to the Fund and Mrs Bramley made a personal donation to Jean to thank her for all her hard work. Needless to say, Jean added this amount to the Fund.
Jean’s friend, journalist and broadcaster Natalie Anglesey, interviewed her on the BBC about the Webster Booth Memorial Fund, bringing news of it to a wider radio audience. Jean’s interview with Natalie
On 6 June 1986 Jean was able to take a cheque for £3250.00 to the RNCM. The first Webster Booth Award was finally presented on 10 December 1986. Jean and Maurice had donated £500 for the prize rather than deplete the £3250.00 which Jean had given to the RNCM earlier that year.
The Duchess of Kent had presented diplomas to RNCM students at a graduation ceremony earlier that day so Jean and Anne were presented to her before she left the college. Later that evening Anne gave the cheque for £500.00 to tenor, Geraint Dodd, the first winner of the Webster Booth Award. There had been no time to hold a competition but the RNCM named Geraint Dodd as the most promising tenor of that year. In turn Geraint Dodd handed Anne a rose as he sang Only a Rose to her. Anne joined him in the singing and the audience, which included Joseph Ward (then head of Vocal Studies) and important guests who had attended the earlier graduation ceremony were touched and delighted. Anne was a STAR on that memorable night. Geraint Dodd joined the Welsh National Opera immediately after his graduation.
The following year, the prize money was increased to £750.00. The adjudicators of the competition were Alexander Young, Sylvia Jacobs and Caroline Crawshaw. Stephen Rooke, a Welsh tenor won the award and received his prize from Anne. It was hoped that the prize money the following year would increase further to £1000.00.
Maurice Buckley typed hundreds of letters to big business and in 1988 Esso plc became a sponsor for the Webster Booth Award. The RNCM also found an additional anonymous sponsor. With this sponsorship the award became much bigger in scope. Esso agreed to sponsor public concerts for the fund the following year. There would be three finalists competing for the award. In 1988 Anne was one of the three judges and presented the prize to New Zealander, Paul Whelan, then a bass baritone. Later Paul Whelan became a baritone and won the Song Prize in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1993.
The prize was not awarded in 1989 but in 1990 the competition for the Webster Booth/Esso Award was held once again and this time the prize money was £5000.00. It had been decided that the competition would no longer be limited to tenors and that all male singers could enter the competition. In 1990 the panel of judges for the final were Ryland Davies (chairman), Anne Ziegler and Ava June.
At the end of 1990, at the suggestion of Joseph Ward, head of Vocal and Opera Studies, the College and Esso decided that a similar award should be made in Anne Ziegler’s name and the first Anne Ziegler/Esso Award for outstanding merit was made to Scottish soprano Rosalind Sutherland in 1991. This Award of £1000.00 was to be used towards the winner’s postgraduate studies at the RNCM. Prospective candidates were asked to perform works, including a duet, which reflected “the wide-ranging repertoire of the legendary tenor Webster Booth and his widow Anne Ziegler, whose remarkable partnership is commemorated in these awards”. By 1992 the competition was open to all suitably qualified singers regardless of gender.
The winner of the Webster Booth/Esso Award would receive £5000.00 for one year’s postgraduate study at the college, a stage audition at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and have engagements with the Hallé orchestra and the Camerata Orchestra. Under Esso sponsorship, the two prizes were awarded each year. Anne no longer judged the competition but continued to present the prizes and address the audience. Although she was over eighty and not in the best of health she continued to delight audiences with her charming speech at the finalists’ concerts. Anne was no longer performing so attending these concerts and presenting prizes to the winners gave her many more years of direct involvement with music than she would otherwise have enjoyed. She always said that on these wonderful occasions she and Jean were “treated like royalty” by everyone associated with the presentation at the RNCM.
Because of changes in company policy Esso terminated its sponsorship of the Webster Booth/Anne Ziegler awards in 1996. Esso gave a year’s notice about this change in order to give the Buckleys a chance to find new sponsors for the awards. In the interim period it was decided that the College would find £1000.00 for the Webster Booth Award while the original money raised by the Buckleys would yield £1000.00 for the Anne Ziegler Award.
 
Once again, the Buckleys began writing to various institutions hoping to find new sponsorship, including Arts for Everyone and the National Lottery, but unfortunately their appeal was turned down by both these institutions. The College in 2001 and 2002 found a generous sponsor in Chartered Accountants Lloyd Piggott.
 
In 2000, the year of Anne’s ninetieth birthday, the RNCM hosted a luncheon party for Anne at Bodysgallen Hall Hotel, Llanrhos. The RNCM was represented by Christopher Yates and Eileen Henry. Jean and Maurice Buckley and the winners of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards for that year, Sarah Cox (soprano) and Tom Raskin (tenor) were guests at the lunch. In 2001 the judges were Adele Leigh, John Savident and Caroline Crawshaw. Unfortunately Anne was unable to attend the competition. Her health was failing and she died two years later on 13 October 2003.
 
Sadly, the Webster Booth Award was discontinued after 2002 when soprano Lee Bissett from Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, won £2000.00. She went on to represent Scotland in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2005.
 
Earlier winners of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler Awards who also represented their countries in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, included:
 
Paul Whelan WB Award 1988 (baritone): New Zealand, 1993, Song Prize winner
Ashley Holland WB Award 1994 (baritone) England 1995
Rosalind Sutherland AZ Award 1991 (soprano) Scotland 1995 Finalist
Roland Wood WB Award 1998 (baritone) England 2003
 
The College continues to present the Anne Ziegler Award each year. When asked by the late Eileen Henry, Development Manager of the RNCM in 2002, Jean agreed that the Anne Ziegler Award should continue, funded by the remaining money she and her husband Maurice had helped to raise. I am not sure if Anne’s award continues as I have lost contact with the RNCM and Jean Buckley is no longer in good health. The winner in 2009 was tenor Sipho Fubesi from Centane, Eastern Cape, South Africa, which would have pleased Anne since she and Webster had lived and worked in South Africa for 22 years.
The names of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler might have been forgotten historical musical figures today, but thanks to the efforts of Jean and the late Maurice Buckley, and the generosity of the RNCM in creating and staging the awards, Anne and Webster’s names and voices are known to many professional singers of the present generation. It would be wonderful if a new sponsor could be found to restore the Webster Booth Award so that the names of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, so closely associated in their professional and personal lives, could be re-united at the RNCM in the form of the two awards.

 WEBSTER BOOTH AWARD WINNERS 

 1986 Geraint Dodd, tenor 

1987 Stephen Rooke, tenor, Wales

1988 Paul Whelan, Bass baritone. (Represented New Zealand in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and won the Song Prize 1993) 
1989 No prize awarded
1994 Ashley Holland –baritone (Represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 1995)
1995 Darrell Babidge – baritone (shared)
1996 Mari-Kjersti Tennfjord – soprano
1997 Antonia Sotgiu – mezzo soprano
1998 Roland Wood –bass-baritone (changed to baritone) (Represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2003)
1999 Toby Stafford-Allen – baritone
Lee Bissett–soprano. (Represented Scotland in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2005) 

 ANNE ZIEGLER AWARD WINNERS 

 1991 Rosalind Sutherland –Soprano (Represented Scotland in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 1995 and was a finalist in the competition)
1997 Daniel Broad baritone
2002 Stephen Pascoe – baritone
2005 Simon Buttle – tenor England  Simon Buttle was the last singer to win the Anne Ziegler Award by competition.
After 2005 the concert was no longer held and the award was made to a promising singer by the Head of Vocal and Operatic Studies in consultation with departmental staff.
2006 Sarah Lawson
2007 Cressida van Gordon – soprano

Jean Collen
© December 2009
Updated January 2017.
 Share/Bookmark
Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Share/Bookmark

GRAND OPERA AND SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR

Webster Booth had always hoped to sing in Grand Opera despite Malcolm Sargent’s advice that unless he had a private income it would be best to leave opera alone. In 1938 he was asked by Sir Thomas Beecham to go to Covent Garden and sing for him. By that time he was already an established singer on the radio, on record,  in oratorio and lighter forms of entertainment and was rather affronted that he should have to audition at all. Sir Thomas and Lady Emerald Cunard were seated in the middle of the empty auditorium and chatted to one another while he sang Your Tiny Hand is Frozen from La Bohème and The Flower Song from Carmen. To add insult to injury Sir Thomas offered him two very small parts – one in The Magic Flute, the other as the tenor singer in Rosenkavalier at the princely sum of £10 per performance and nothing for rehearsals.

Unlike Sir Thomas’s disdainful attitude towards Webster, Erich Kleiber, who was conducting Der Rosenkavalier was most impressed with his voice and congratulated him on his performance of the aria before the whole company. It was during the first performance of Rosenkavalier that the famous soprano, Lotte Lehmann, who was playing the role of the Marschallein, stopped singing in the middle of the performance and walked off the stage. She had been informed before the performance that her husband had been arrested by the Nazis.



Early in 1939, Webster appeared in Rosenkavalier at Sadler’s Wells and accepted no fee. Miss Lilian Baylis could only afford to pay him £4 per performance. Webster wrote in his autobiography, Duet: “I laughed and replied, “Don’t bother with the £4. I’ll sing four performances for you anyway!”

 

Although Webster was offered the part of Lohengrin and other roles at Covent Garden in 1951 during the Festival of Britain, he turned it down.  People often question why he “wasted so much time” singing duets in Variety, but one of the reasons he did this was because Variety paid a great deal more than Opera and required far less hard work. 
 
September 1 2012 is the
centenary of the death of the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who died
at the early age of 37 on September 1 1912. Despite his early death he
left a legacy of fine music behind him. I have many of his piano solos
in my possession and get much pleasure in playing them.


Webster Booth was associated with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor because of his many appearances in Hiawatha,
Coleridge-Taylor’s best known and most popular work. He made his first appearance in this work at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1936 with Harold Williams and others
and made another appearance in Hiawatha in June 1937, shortly before he sailed for New York the following month.


Before the war, the work was presented in full native-American costume and
here is Webster in his costume below. Dr Malcolm Sargent (as he was
then) conducted the work and continued to present it with the Royal
Choral Society and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra many times.


Webster appeared in many other performances of Hiawatha, including one presented at Kenilworth Castle in  1952. I have included a few of the advertisements below:

Hiawatha at Kenilworth Castle 1952

Webster Booth appeared in the Jubilee concert of  Hiawatha to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the concert which was first presented in March 1900. 

 
May 1951. Croydon, Davis Theatre.
As part of the Festival of Britain celebrations a concert mainly devoted to the works of local composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was held in the Davis Theatre on 31 May 1951, part of a series of concerts sponsored by Croydon Corporation for the Festival. Parts One and Two of Hiawatha were presented by the Croydon Philharmonic Society, conducted by Alan J. Kirby. Gwen Catley, Webster Booth and Dennis Noble were the soloists. 
.
14 Ju

 

 
 
Although
the planned presentation of Hiawatha in 1954 was called off at the last
minute because of poor ticket sales, Sir Malcolm Sargent asked that
Webster should be the soloist in the work at his sixtieth birthday
concert on 29 April 1955 at the Royal Festival Hall, where his fellow
soloists were Jennifer Vyvian and Australian baritone John Cameron.
Perhaps because the performance was associated with Sir Malcolm’s
birthday, tickets were in great demand.
 
Here is a photograph from the defunct magazine, Music and Musicians where Webster and Anne are speaking to John Cameron after the performance.
 
His last performance in the work was at the Promenade Concert in August 1955, where he also sang the song cycle To Julia by Roger Quilter.
 

In July 1956 he and Anne Ziegler moved to Johannesburg South Africa. He never sang in another performance of this work.

Webster Booth recorded several songs by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor  below:

Onaway, Awake, Beloved!

Eleanore

Unmindful of the Roses/Life and Death

Jean Collen 2012 Updated May 2017

Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Share/Bookmark

ENTERTAINING IN CAFES, RESTAURANTS, HOTELS AND AT MASONIC CONCERTS.

 

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler spent a large part of their early careers singing in restaurants, hotels and cafés. Many of these establishments were owned by J. Lyons and Company, forebears of the attractive food fundi, Nigella Lawson.  Neither enjoyed singing in these establishments because they were obliged to sing over the conversation of diners, the bustle of waiters and nippies, the clatter of dishes, and in an atmosphere pervaded with the mingling smells of food, drink and tobacco. If you think that these places were the intimate cabaret venues one might find today, think again. Many of these restaurants and cafés were capable of seating 2000 people, most of whom were not paying close attention to the musical entertainment on offer, regarding it as mere background music.
Lyon’s Corner House, Piccadilly

Not only did Webster sing in Lyon’s Restaurants and Cafés, but he was often called upon to sing at Masonic, staff and livery dinners. Webster himself was a Mason and there were Masonic Lodges attached to the Savage Club and the Concert Artistes’ Association. He was an active member of both and in the 1950s he and Anne were joint presidents of the CAA for several years. I thought that  entertainers at Masonic dinners would be limited to men, but women also entertained there. Webster particularly remembered Betsy de la Porte, the South African singer, as a fellow soloist. She  took her knitting with her to keep herself busy as she waited to perform. There were close connections between particular restaurants and hotels and various Masonic Lodges. The Skelmersdale Lodge held their meetings at Verrey’s Hotel, Hanover Street from 1926 to January 1928, after which they moved to another hotel.
Webster’s second wife, Paddy Prior, a comedienne, soubrette and mezzo soprano, whom he married in October 1932, began entertaining at such dinners when she was not otherwise occupied in seaside summer shows, musical comedies, early television or pantomimes. Early in 1927 she appeared at the Skelmersdale Lodge Masonic Ladies’ night at their meeting place at Verrey’s Hotel, Hanover Street, apparently evoking much laughter amongst the guests with her turn. In 1928 she appeared at Anderton’s Hotel, Fleet Street, the hotel where the Magic Circle  held their meetings and which had close associations with the printing profession. The inaugural dinner of the London Press Club had been held there in 1882. She entertained at a Printers’ Charity Concert with other performers, and in 1929 she performed for the Electrotypers & Stereotypers’ Managers’ and Overseers’ Association at Frascati’s Restaurant, Oxford Street.
In January 1928 there was a dinner of the Gallery First Nighters’ Club at the Comedy Restaurant, Panton Street, Haymarket, with Miles Malleson as  guest of honour, where a number of well-known artistes provided the entertainment, including George Metaxa, Webster Booth and Tom Howell (the leader of the Opieros, with whom Webster was working at the time) and a similarly lavish dinner for the Daily Mirror and Sunday Pictorial staffs at the Holborn Restaurant, Kingsway also featured Webster Booth. 
Paddy Prior entertains the Masons.

 A photo of Paddy Prior taken some years after her divorce from Webster Booth.

Paddy Prior entertained at Beale’s Masonic Hall, Holloway, while Webster, who was still calling himself by his full name, Leslie Webster Booth, appeared at a variety of Lyons Cafes, such as the Popular Café in Piccadilly, which seated 2000 diners, the Empress Rooms, and the Corner House in the Strand. The Lyons restaurants catered for different social classes. The Trocadero was luxurious and expensive, while other restaurants were more economical. Within the same venue there were often multiple restaurants, some more expensive than others.
The Trocadero
Even in the 1930s when Webster was making a name for himself on record, radio, in the West End, Oratorio, and on film, he was still entertaining at dinners and at benefit concerts, such as one at the Finsbury Town Hall on 6 March 1930 for the Clerkenwell Benevolent Society, where South African soprano, Garda Hall was one of the other entertainers. Charles Forwood was the accompanist at this concert. Ten years later, Charles Forwood would become the regular accompanist for Anne and Webster in their variety act. In February 1931 Webster and Gladys Ripley (contralto) sang at a dinner for the Hardware and Metal Trades Musical Society at the Cannon Street Hotel. A month later he sang at the Holborn Restaurant for the Entre Nous Club, with comedienne, Suzette Tarri and comedian, Arthur Askey as fellow artists.
I would imagine that entertaining at dinners was more congenial than singing above the general hub-bub in a public restaurant or café, as those attending the arranged dinner would have a specific time set aside to enjoy the entertainment, and this would not have been while waiters were collecting dirty crockery or serving the next course.
The first time that Webster and Paddy Prior appeared together was at a concert for the Bellingham Club on 30 April,1932. They were married on 10 October of the same year. In January 1933 Webster sang at a meeting of the Henley Lodge, held at the Connaught rooms, which had been the headquarters of the Freemasons since 1717.  After a long summer season with Paddy at Scarborough with the Piccadilly Revels later that year, Webster was entertaining the Railway men at the North End Hall, Croydon and for St Dunstan’s at the Regal Kinema, Beckenham. The Lea Valley Growers Association held their annual dinner at the Abercorn Rooms on 1 November with Webster, Bertha Wilmott, Mario de Pietro and other entertainers, and Webster entertained the Masons of the Welcome Lodge at the Adelaide Galleries on November 15th. On 21 December The Old Friends Society held their ladies festival at the Hotel Victoria. Once again Webster was one of the performers. In the early 1930s he was the guest artist at the New Year’s Annual Gathering of the Luton Industrial Co-operative Society, situated at 3-5 Hastings Street, Luton. 

THE JOY OF LIFE

Irené Frances Eastwood had changed her name to Anne Ziegler in 1934 when she arrived in London from Liverpool in 1934 to sing the top voice of the octet in the musical play, By Appointment, which starred the famous soprano, Maggie Teyte. The show was not a success and closed after three weeks. Her father had lost his money in the collapse of the cotton shares so Anne decided to stay on in London to try to forge a career there rather than return to Liverpool and add to her father’s financial woes. She found work singing in Joseph Lyons’ venues, and continued this work, on and off, for two years. She sang at the Regent Palace Hotel, Glass House Street, the Popular Cafe in Piccadilly, The Strand Corner House, the Trocadero, the Café de la Paix, the Café Monico, Piccadilly Circus, the Piccadilly, and the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch. She often worked on the same bill as Leslie Hutchinson, “Hutch” at the Cumberland and with tenor Harry Welchman.
On 20 February 1936 Webster and Paddy Prior contributed to the musical programme at the ladies’ festival of the Hendon Lodge, held at the Piccadilly Hotel and the pair entertained again in April when the Lyric Lodge of Instruction met at Gatti’s Restaurant. Later that month he sang for the annual dinner of the London Meat Trades’ and Drovers’ Benevolent Association at the Connaught Rooms. It demonstrates Webster Booth’s versatility that, on 10 April 1936, he was the tenor soloist in the Good Friday Messiah at the Albert Hall.
On 29 April Webster entertained at the annual dinner of the London Commercial Chess League at the Northumberland Rooms, Trafalgar Square, along with Leonard Henry. The last engagement Webster and Paddy worked together was at the 84th Annual Dinner of the City Musical Union at the Holborn Restaurant on April 30 1936, attended by 500 people. He had met Anne Ziegler during the filming of The Faust Fantasy at the end of 1934, and this meeting brought Webster’s short marriage with Paddy to an end in 1938.
 At the end of May 1936 he and Paddy went to the wedding of their friends, Violet Stevens and Bryan Courage and attended the reception at Frascati’s, the last time they were out together as a married couple. I presume that they made an effort to avoid appearing at joint engagements in future. They both continued to perform at dinners, many connected with the Masons, although, by this time Webster was a regular broadcaster, oratorio soloist and film actor. In January 1937 he sang at the annual dinner of the Ham and Beef National Trade Association at the Holborn Restaurant and at the City Musical Union, this time at the Cannon Street Hotel, and at the Charrilock Social Club dinner at the Trocadero in March. 

TAKE THE SUN

Webster started singing with Anne in 1937 and literally burnt his boats as far as Paddy was concerned, when he went with Anne to New York where she had been booked to appear in the musical, Virginia at the Center Theater there. They were married on 5 November 1938.
Paddy joined ENSA at the outbreak of war. In 1947 war she immigrated to Australia. Ironically, while Paddy was entertaining the troops in various theatres of war, Anne and Webster rose to great fame as romantic duettists on the variety stages of the UK, but eventually immigrated to South Africa in 1956.
The Booths returned to the UK in 1978 and in December 1979, were invited to present a Sunday afternoon concert at the Cumberland and were given a week’s luxury accommodation there to commemorate their appearances there early on in their careers.
Jean Collen 2010 ©
Updated in May 2017.

 

Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Share/Bookmark

HAROLD FIELDING CONCERTS

HAROLD FIELDING CONCERTS

Impresario, Harold Fielding.

In the summer of 1941, when many London theatres were closed, Jack Hylton, the popular dance band leader put on a week’s series of orchestral concerts at the London Coliseum, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. Despite constant bombing raids 20,000 people attended these concerts. Top ranking musicians of the day were soloists with the orchestra, including pianists Eileen Joyce, Moura Lympany, Clifford Curzon, violinist Albert Sammons, violist Lionel Tertis, and singers Isobel Baillie, Eva Turner and Webster Booth himself. Interestingly he sang The Prize Song from The Mastersingers and Lohengrin’s Narration in a Wagner programme. During the First World War German music had been shunned in Britain, but apparently this was not the case in the Second World War. Jack Hylton’s concert manager was the young former child-prodigy violinist, Harold Fielding. Harold Fielding’s career as a concert violinist was cut short in his early twenties because he began suffering memory lapses and stage fright. It was at  this Wagner concert where Webster met Harold Fielding for the first time.

Pianist Sir Clifford Curzon (My favourite pianist)

Isobel Baillie (soprano)

Albert Sammons (violin)

Maryon Rawicz and Walter Landauer (duo pianists)
Mark Hambourg (pianist)
 














After this series of concerts ended Harold (aged 25) formed the National Philharmonic Orchestra, with Julian Clifford as conductor. The orchestra toured the country for several years. Although this venture did not make any money  Harold was persistent in his endeavours to present good music to the British public. Because of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s great popularity at that time, he signed them up as guest artistes with the orchestra, along with pianist Mark Hambourg for a four-week tour of Britain in November and December of 1943. They performed in large concert halls and theatres, such as the Belle Vue, Manchester, The Usher Hall in Edinburgh, and the Alhambra, Glasgow. With Mark Hambourg,  Anne and Webster as guest artistes, the houses were always full. With this change in format Harold Fielding’s fortunes took a turn for the better. He decided to abandon orchestral concert tours in favour of vocal and instrumental ones. Anne and Webster, the duo pianists, Rawicz and Landauer who had been interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man earlier in the war, and violinist Albert Sandler, son of a poor Russian immigrant,  often took part in these concert tours. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Albert Sandler (violin)
 
The following year, on 20 May 1944 Harold Fielding presented a concert at the Royal Albert Hall:
 
 
Anne and Webster  were booked for another tour by Harold Fielding at the beginning of 1946, but Webster was taken ill during a concert in the Town Hall, Sheffield. Despite losing his voice he journeyed on to Edinburgh where the next concert was to take place, but still had no voice and felt worse than ever. A doctor diagnosed bad ‘flu and ordered him to bed immediately. Rather than stay in bed in an Edinburgh hotel by himself he decided to return to London, while Anne continued with the tour on her own. In their joint autobiography, Duet, Anne mentioned that nobody in Dundee or Glasgow asked for their money back because of Webster’s absence, but a minority of people in Newcastle demanded a refund.
 Anne and Webster embarked on another concert tour for Harold Fielding from August to November of 1946, and this time Dublin was included in the concert itinerary. On Sunday, 13th October they sang in a celebrity concert at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue in aid of the General Jewish Hospital, Shaarezedek, The Ever-Open Door, Jerusalem, under the patronage of the Lady Louis Mountbatten. This concert had a large number of acts, ranging from Cheerful Charlie Chester, Issy Bonn and Anne Shelton to pianist Harriet Cohen and Anne and Webster. Tickets ranged in price from £3.3s to 5s. 

From 10 – 22 June 1946, Harold Fielding presented a series of six festival concerts at the Pavilion, Bournemouth and the Davis Theatre, Croydon. These concerts included conductors Dr Malcolm Sargent, Andre Kostelanetz with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloists were Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, Moura Lympany, Richard Tauber and the Russian pianist Poulshnoff.
Richard Tauber (Tenor)
 
 
This tour culminated in another concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 1 December.


 After a short break over Christmas the tour continued in 1947. This was the contract which Webster signed for dates in February 1947. Julius Darewski was their agent at the time:

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






In this contract, Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler agreed to appear for Harold Fielding’s management at :
 
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Wednesday,  February 4 at 7.30pm
Caird Hall, Dundee, Thursday, February 5 at 7.30pm
Kelvingrove Hall, Glasgow, Friday, February 6 evening
City Hall, Newcastle, Saturday, February 7 evening
City Hall, Sheffield, Wednesday February 18 evening
Town Hall, Huddersfield, Wednesday February 25 evening
 
The Management agrees to pay and the Artists agree to accept a fee for the above engagements of £90.0.0 per concert plus expenses of £120.0.0 for the three Scotch dates and £20.0.0 per concert for the other three dates.
 
The Artists agree to perform the group of not less than thirty minutes at each concert. Programme items to be mutually agreed with the Management.
 
It is understood and agreed that the Artists will not appear in these locations before the dates of the concerts herein contracted or in any adjoining town(s) within a radius of ten miles, or allow their names to be advertised for any subsequent appearance(s) in the towns concerned until they have performed the above concerts.
 
The Artists undertake to provide the services of their accompanist, Charles Forwood, without extra charge.
 
The Management undertakes to forward a copy of the running order in connection with these concerts for the approval of the Artists. If the Artists wish to request any alteration thereto, they undertake to do so within twenty-four hours after receipt of the said running order.
 
It is understood and agreed that the Management will provide three first-class tickets from London, or nearest point, to Dundee and return covering the three Scotch dates and Newcastle, together with three first-class tickets from London, or nearest point, to Sheffield and return, and three first-class tickets from London, or nearest point, to Huddersfield and return.
 
The fees for these engagements will be paid on the Friday following each concert.
 
Webster Booth (signed)
 
Apart from radio and variety work, it seemed as though the majority of engagements undertaken by Anne and Webster were for Harold Fielding at that time. They were due to go on an extended tour to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, but they managed to fit in a final Fielding concert at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh with the South African pianist Lionel Bowman and Australian bass baritone, Peter Dawson, who had returned to Britain from Australia after the war. 
They returned from their successful tour on their tenth wedding anniversary, 5 November 1948, and in December they were once again singing for Harold Fielding in Sandown on the Isle of Wight.
 
In 1950 Anne and Webster appeared at various places in a series of Sunday concerts for Harold Fielding. Towards the end of the year Reginald Tate Bickerstaffe, who had been Harold Fielding’s manager and was fondly known as Bicky, died. The funeral was held at Golders Green. Many artistes who had sung in many of Harold Fielding’s concerts attended the funeral, including Rawicz and Landauer, Anne and Webster, Julius Darewski (Anne and Webster’s agent), BC Hilliam (Flotsam, the surviving partner of the duo, Flotsam and Jetsam), Percy Kahn, a composer who had been accompanist to Richard Tauber who had sadly died of lung cancer early in 1948, soprano Gwen Catley and pianist, Lionel Bowman.
 
 
 
1951 was Festival of Britain year during which time Harold Fielding presented a series of celebrity concerts, called Music for the Millions. These concerts were held all over the country and were broadcast from July to September. On the bill for the first concert from Eastbourne were the Kordites, Max Wall and Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. By the fifties Harold was extending the artistes he used from musical performers to comedians and variety turns and many of his concerts were broadcast and in 1952 he presented Harold Fielding’s Festival of 
British Radio, starring Anne and Webster and others. Harold Fielding speaks about association

While Anne and Webster still appeared occasionally for Harold Fielding in the fifties, they were no longer constantly working for him. Harold Fielding, in turn, employed many more artists in the fifties than he had done in the forties. Richard Tauber and Albert Sandler had died. Webster was singing in a number of more serious concerts, often with Sir Malcolm Sargent as conductor, and he and Anne went on an extended tour of Vivian Ellis’s musical play And So to Bed with Leslie Henson. They became joint presidents of the Concert Artistes Association in 1953 and remained in this position for several years. Anne returned to playing principal boys in Cinderella at Streatham Hill in 1953 and as Dick Whittington at the King’s Hammersmith in 1954.


Bibliography
Booth, W, Ziegler, A, Duet, Stanley Paul, London, 1951
Collen, J, A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the Lives of Webster Booth & Anne ZieglerDUETTIST’S STORE FRONT ON LULU, 2008



Jean Collen

June 2011
Updated May 2017
Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Share/Bookmark

MY FIRST MEMORIES OF WEBSTER BOOTH AND ANNE ZIEGLER (1957 – 1960)


Share/Bookmark
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (1957-1960)

We arrived in Johannesburg in October of 1957. My father had been offered a job in the same firm as a former Scottish colleague from ISCOR (now Arcelor Mittal) in Vanderbijl Park and we were living in the Valmeidere boarding house in Roberts Avenue, Kensington until we found a suitable flat. We witnessed the lights of Sputnik flying over our heads at night and wondered whether this was a sign that we had made the right move to the big city.

 

                                                                                               My parents and me in Vanderbijlpark in 1950.

 The school year in South Africa runs from January to December, so I, aged thirteen, went to yet another new school just in time to prepare to write end of year exams in subjects with different syllabuses to the ones I had been studying at my previous school. I staggered into the busy road each morning, praying that I would not be knocked down by a speeding car, to catch a rattling tram down the hill to Jeppe Girls’ High School, clad in my new green dress and black blazer with white stripes. The most important part of the uniform seemed to be the white Panama hat adorned with school colours and badge. This had to be worn at all times when outside the school. Heaven help anyone who removed it, or worse still, forgot to wear it.
 
The boarding house proprietors were fellow Scots, Mr and Mrs Jimmy Murdoch. They were friendly with a couple called Mr and Mrs McDonald-Rouse. Mrs McDonald-Rouse ran a flourishing amateur concert party and was the accompanist to all the singers in the group. Her daughter Heather, a theatrical costumier, had recently married and sometimes dined with her parents and her new husband at the Valmeidere. In due course we were introduced to the McDonald-Rouses, Heather and her husband.
 
Through her work, Heather had met Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth shortly after their arrival in South Africa the year before and had become very friendly with them. Through the grapevine we heard that Webster had sung the aria from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, St Paul at Heather’s wedding, entitled Be Thou Faithful unto Death. Later I learnt that this aria was one of his favourite choices when requested to sing a solo at a wedding. Another of his wedding favourites was the ballad,My Prayer.

Click on the link to hear Webster singing: BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH

 

John Corrigan, my father’s colleague, was an elder at St James’ Presbyterian Church, then situated in Mars Street, Malvern. The church moved to its new site in Bedfordview in 1976. He invited us to a performance of Messiah to be held in the Church Hall, conducted by Drummond Bell, organist and choir master at the Central Presbyterian Church, St George’s. Coincidentally, the tenor and soprano soloists were to be Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. This was the first time I ever attended a performance of Messiah, and the first time I ever saw Anne and Webster. I did not know then that Webster had been one of the foremost oratorio tenors in Britain, but I had heard a number of their duet recordings, which were often played on the radio. It now seems rather incongruous that they should be singing Messiah in a suburban Church Hall when only two years before Webster’s oratorio stamping ground had been the Royal Albert Hall, with the Royal Choral Society, with Sir Malcolm Sargent as conductor and other foremost oratorio soloists.
 
Since their arrival in South Africa, Anne and Webster had received a great deal of publicity on the radio and in the newspapers. As I have mentioned, their records were featured on South African radio a number of times each day. South Africans could not quite believe that such an illustrious theatrical couple had willingly chosen to exchange their successful careers and lives in the UK as the best known duettists in Britain – possibly the world – to become immigrants in the colonial backwater of Johannesburg. My parents remembered them fondly from their frequent broadcasts in the UK, and seeing them in Variety and in the musical play, Sweet Yesterday at Glasgow theatres.
 

We sat fairly near the front of the hall on the right hand side. I wish I could say I that I remember every moment of that performance nearly sixty years ago. But sadly. I only remember snatches of it. Webster looked rather stern during the whole proceeding and I am sorry to admit that I was not immediately struck with the exquisite beauty of his voice. I did not know every aria of Messiah then as I do now. In fact, the only piece I had heard before was the Halleluiah Chorus. My most enduring memory of the occasion was the tea break when Anne, her hair recently cut in a rather startling Italian Boy hairstyle, drank tea and chatted animatedly with the star-struck tea ladies a few feet away from where we were seated.

Anne’s Italian Boy hairstyle (1957)
 

St Anne’s Convent Grammar School, Southampton.

In mid-1958, my parents, doubtful of what the future in South Africa held, made a bid to return to the UK. We lived in Southampton – yet another new school another different syllabus, new subjects, and girls with Hampshire accents. My mode of transport in Southampton was a crowded bus from the suburb of Bitterne to St Anne’s Convent Grammar School. It was winter, so the bus journey began in the dark and ended in the dark by the time I reached home in the afternoon.

One of my parents’ friends had a grand piano on which I was allowed to practise and receive music lessons. The gentleman had a collection of 78 records which had belonged to his late wife. While his son and his friends chatted about various forms of jazz in the sitting room, I looked through the record collection in the dining room and was delighted to find a number of Anne and Webster’s recordings. After listening to their fill of Chris Barber records, the young men departed and I was able to play the duet records on the ancient record player. I enjoyed listening to the records and thinking that I had heard Anne and Webster singing in Johannesburg the previous year and knew something about them.

 
By the end of 1958 my parents decided that we would return to South Africa so we were on our way back on board the Pretoria Castle, the same ship on which Anne and Webster had travelled to South Africa in July 1956.
 
Despite my disrupted education I was back at Jeppe Girls’ High,admitted to Form IV for my final two years at school, which would culminate in writing the matriculation exams at the end of 1960. My father had returned to his old job with Mr Corrigan, and my parents bought a house in Juno Street, Kensington, having decided that life in South Africa, despite its uncertain political future was easier than life back in the UK where the weather was hard, the cost of living high, and Southampton was still full of bomb sites thirteen years after the war. 
Juno Street
 
At the end of 1959 I went to the Reps Theatre (now the Alexander Theatre) with the late Gillian McDade, who had been head girl at Jeppe in 1959, to usher for the Children’s Theatre show, The Glass Slipper. The house was full so there were no spare seats for the teenage voluntary ushers, but I was delighted to watch the enchanting show seated on the carpeted stairs of the darkened auditorium. Anne Ziegler was playing the Fairy Godmother and made her entrance in a glass coach drawn by a donkey. She looked every inch an ethereal Fairy Godmother in her gossamer crinoline gown.
 
In 1960 Anne and Webster came to the Methodist Church in Roberts Avenue to sing in a Variety show that had been arranged to raise money for Church funds. I loved their charming act, once again done on the small stage of a suburban Church hall rather than in one of the great Variety Halls in the UK where they had been performing only a few years before. I waited for them to emerge at the interval to ask for their autographs and they signed my book in the vestry, Webster graciously holding the door open for me. Strangely enough I was the only autograph hunter that evening. They were both charming to me.

 
East London cast of Merrie England (1958). Mabel Fenney (later Perkin) was Jill-All-Alone on the left of the photograph
 
Mrs Mabel Fenney from East London had taken over from Miss Heller as temporary music mistress at Jeppe for a term while Miss Heller was on long leave. At the time she was studying singing with the Booths and had recently won the UNISA (University of South Africa) scholarship to study abroad. Mabel was charming and glamorous and took some of us girls to see Rigoletto at the Empire Theatre in the city centre. She often regaled the music students with tales of her studies with Anne and Webster and at the end of the term gave a memorable vocal recital in the school hall. I particularly remember her singing an aria from Carmen and ending the song by throwing a rose to her fascinated schoolgirl audience. At the end of the term Mabel Fenney went to the Hochschule in Berlin to further her singing studies. I wondered whether my singing was good enough for me to have singing lessons with Anne and Webster after I finished school.
Jeannie C

 

Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Share/Bookmark

THE ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH STORY.

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth first met during the filming of The Faust Fantasy in 1934/35

 

 

 

 

 

THE ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH STORY

Anne Ziegler, the widow and singing partner of Webster Booth, died in Llandudno, North Wales, on 13 October 2003, at the age of 93. Her death brought an end to an era in British entertainment before and after the Second World War. Her death brings an end to an era for me also.

I was seventeen when I first met them at the end of 1960. They were already middle-aged, in the same age group as my parents, their top-flight stage career in Britain behind them. I was too young to have seen them at the height of their fame, but even then I thought them a shining couple, as I still do over forty-three years later.

In their day, in the thirties, forties and fifties, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were stars of stage, screen, radio, concert halls and variety theatres, and made over a thousand 78 rpms, either as duets or solos. Webster was also in demand as tenor soloist in oratorio: Handel’s Messiah, Jephtha, Samson, Acis and Galatea, Judas Maccabbeus, and  Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, to mention but a few. Before the Second World War, he had sung Coleridge Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in full Native American costume, and in 1955 on the occasion of Sir Malcolm Sargent’s birthday concert, Sir Malcolm requested particularly that he should be the tenor soloist in the same work.

D’OYLY CARTE AND EARLY STAGE APPEARANCES

At twenty-one he auditioned for the D’Oyly Carte Company and was immediately accepted after a London audition. He abandoned auditing with little regret to became a professional singer, making his debut with the company in The Yeomen of the Guard at the Theatre Royal, Brighton. He stayed with the company for four years, but made no great advancement from the chorus and small parts. In his joint autobiography with Anne Ziegler, he complained that the only way one could advance in the company was to wait to fill ‘dead men’s shoes’. Despite this observation, he was one of the few singers who was allowed to record solo songs from the G&S repertoire without obtaining the prior approval of Bridget D’Oyly Carte.

His recordings of Take a pair of sparkling eyes and A Wand’ring Minstrel under the baton of Leslie Heward remain unsurpassed and are available on CD. He went with the company on a memorable and successful tour to Canada. Winifred Lawson, the principal soprano, heard him singing Your Tiny Hand is Frozen from La Bohème at the ship’s concert and was impressed with his voice. She was not surprised when he left the company and soon became a deserved success in his own right.

After the stability of a regular – if small – salary from D’Oyly Carte, he became a freelance performer with a wife and small son to support. He was lucky to be accepted in Tom Howell’s Opieros concert party. This party sang in parks ad at seaside resorts and was unique because some members of the party (including the fine baritone, Tom Howell himself) sang operatic excerpts as well as performing the usual concert party lighter fare. During the winter, he sang with Tom Howell  at Masonic concerts, sang in various Lyons’ restaurants, and appeared in two Brixton pantomimes. in 1930 he made his debut in the West End as the Duke of Buckingham in Friml’s  The Three Musketeers at Drury Lane. In 1932 he sang in Powis Pinder’s SUNSHINE concert party in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. Appearing on the same bill was Arthur Askey, and he and Leslie (his first name) became good friends. Arthur Askey named his daughter Anthea after hearing Leslie sing To Anthea by Hatton at one of the performances.

By the time he met Anne Ziegler during the filming of the colour film Faust in 1934, he was married to his second wife, Paddy Prior. He had divorced his first wife, Winifred Keey in 1931 after she had deserted him and their small son, and married Paddy Prior, a talented dancer, comedienne and soubrette in October 1932. The couple were happy for some time and Paddy and Webster appeared together in several concert parties, the Piccadilly Revels in 1933 and Sunshine in 1934.

Sadly, the marriage did not last after he met Anne. Paddy divorced him, naming Anne as co-respondent. He and Anne  were married on Bonfire Night in 1938. Webster Booth soon formed a duet partnership with his wife in addition to his extensive recording, film, oratorio and concert work.

ANNE ZIEGLER


Anne was born Irené Frances Eastwood in Liverpool on 22 June 1910. Her sister, Phyllis, and brother, Cyril, were some years older than her, so Irené was almost an only child. At the time of her birth, her father, a cotton broker, was in Houston, Texas, buying cotton, so he did not see her until she was three months old.

Her father did not want her to risk the might of the Zeppelins, so she had a Scottish nursery governess to teach her reading, writing and basic arithmetic. Later she attended Belvedere School. Her sister, Phyll, had done well there, but Anne was only interested in music and dancing, so the staff at Belvedere often compared her unfavourably to her studious elder sister, who became a pharmacist when she left school.

When Anne left school, she continued the piano up to Grade VIII of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and began to study singing with the eminent teacher, John Tobin. In the nineteen-twenties a girl of her class had no need to work for a living. She was beautiful: tall and slim with emerald green eyes, fair hair and a fine bone structure. She became engaged – several times – to suitable young men. She sang in John Tobin’s female choir of twenty-four voices, and took the part of the May Queen in an amateur production of Merrie England.

She won the gold medal at the Liverpool eisteddfod, and sang at concerts around Liverpool, but singing was a pleasant way of passing the time rather than a means of earning her living. Her father financed a vocal recital in Liverpool and a further recital at the Wigmore Hall under John Tobin’s tutelage. At the Wigmore Hall she sang everything from Handel’s He’ll say that for my love from Xerses to Roger Quilter’s Love’s Philosophy and Scheherzade, but neither of these recitals brought forth any professional singing engagements.

Her family’s fortune took a downturn in the early thirties with the depression and the collapse of the cotton trade. For the first time in her life, she had to think seriously about earning a living to relieve her family’s finances. She was not trained to do anything as mundane as serving in a shop or typing, but she was attractive and she could sing. She and her friend, the mezzo-soprano, Nancy Evans, went to London to audition. Nancy didn’t find any work on that occasion, but Anne got the part of top voice in the octet of a musical play, By Appointment, starring the famous singer, Maggie Teyte, changed her name to the more glamorous Anne Ziegler, was accepted on the books of the theatrical agent Robert Layton, and was determined to establish herself on the stage and not become a financial burden to her father. By Appointment was not a success and lasted only three weeks but she found another job singing for Mr Joe Lyon’s organisation amidst the clatter of the restaurants of the Regent Palace and Cumberland Hotels, and the Trocadero. She auditioned for the part of Marguerite in a colour film version of Gounod’s Faust Fantasy. She had seen the opera as a child and was so enchanted with it that she determined she would play the role of Marguerite when she grew up.

From over two hundred other hopefuls she was chosen for the part: no doubt her blonde good looks and charming personality counted for nearly as much as her attractive lyric soprano voice. It was in the making of this film, which commenced shooting in December 1934, that she met Webster Booth, playing opposite her as Faust.

They fell in love almost at first sight, although at the time he was married to his second wife, Paddy Prior and had a son, Keith, by his first marriage. Four years later, after his divorce from Paddy in times when divorce was not as common or acceptable as it is today, Anne and Webster were married on Bonfire Night in 1938.

In those intervening four years, Anne sang principal boy in her first pantomime, was an overnight success on radio in The Chocolate Soldier, sang in the early days of British television in 1936, and starred, under the name of Anne Booth, in the musical Virginia in New York.

Webster went to New York with her, hoping to find some stage work of his own, but, despite his great voice, he did not make any impact on the cut-throat American musical world. He attended various auditions in New York as an unknown, while in England he was already an established performer in oratorio, recording, films, and the West End stage. He returned to England, crestfallen at his lack of success, and resumed his numerous engagements. Anne, in the meantime, was hailed as a Broadway star and offered a film contract in Hollywood, with the idea that she would be the successor to Jeanette McDonald. The offer was tempting, but she turned it down to return to England and marry Webster Booth when his divorce from Paddy Prior was made final.

They formed a duet partnership, in addition to their solo work. Their first duet recording was If you were the only girl in the world, with A Paradise for Two on the flip side. Before this official recording she had sung with him as an anonymous soprano voice in a radio series called The Voice of Romance. In this series he too was anonymous, but by this time, most people would have recognised his distinctive voice.

In 1940 they accepted an offer from agent Julius Darewski to join the variety circuit. The money was good and they were well received on the variety halls, always doing their act without the aid of a microphone. If Webster Booth’s voice filled the Albert Hall when he sang the tenor part in Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha in Native American dress under the baton of Malcolm Sargent, the same voice, in harmony with his wife’s, filled the variety theatres from the London Palladium to all points of the United Kingdom.

They were the epitome of glamour and romance. He was tall, dark and handsome. He was always in immaculate evening attire, she in a range of crinoline gowns, some designed by Norman Hartnell. Their act was interspersed with what seemed like off-the-cuff banter, but every word and move was meticulously planned, and the lighting plot carefully worked out for the most telling impact.

Apart from the usual operatic arias and musical comedy duets, Anne and Webster sang and recorded a number of ballads, arranged as duets, and an interesting and difficult arrangement of Chopin’s famous Nocturne in C sharp minor, arranged by Maurice Besley. As often as not Webster would arrange the duet part himself if none had been written.

Shortly before the divorce from Paddy Prior.

Although I was too young to have seen them on stage in the days of their great success in the forties and early fifties, I believe their success was due to the wonderful blend of the voices, creating a special, instantly recognisable sound, and their contrasting good looks, she beautifully gowned, he in full evening dress. Above all, they were instantly likeable with charming personalities, and possessed an elusive ability to make people adore them.

They were at the height of their fame during the war. Webster was born in 1902, too old for war service, and suffering from a kidney problem, which precluded him from having the necessary inoculations for going to the front. When the war started, he went to Bristol, where the BBC moved at the outbreak of war, as one of the selected broadcasters to join the staff of the variety department. Anne joined him there several months later but Webster left the employ of the BBC at the end of the year although he and Anne made many freelance broadcasts for the corporation. They sang in George Black’s production of Gangway at the London Palladium in 1941 with Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon, and starred in a revival of The Vagabond King at the Winter Garden theatre in 1943. In 1945, they starred in Sweet Yesterday at the Adelphi, a musical play with music by Kenneth Leslie-Smith. It was in Glasgow during the pre-London tour of the show that the war ended and Webster was called upon to make the announcement to the theatre audience. They appeared in three films during and after the war: Demobbed (1944), Waltz Time (1945) (with Richard Tauber) and The Laughing Lady (1946).

The variety theatres, like the music halls before them, were in their twilight years in the early fifties, and Webster’s long-standing recording contract with HMV was suddenly cancelled in 1951, despite his still being in excellent voice at the age of forty-nine.

Anne and Webster’s charming, sentimental, polished and exquisitely groomed act, so popular with the public in the forties, was losing favour. The post-war generation preferred American entertainers like Danny Kaye and Judy Garland at the London Palladium, or brasher acts fresh from the tough training ground of forces entertainment. Calypso, skiffle and rock and roll became the favoured musical entertainment, as sung by Lonnie Donegan, Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde and the ultimate Elvis Presley.

Jeannie C COPYRIGHT 2005

Updated 2017.
 

 

Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Share/Bookmark

BROADCASTS ON THEIR RETURN TO THE UK (1978 – 1997)

 

These were the last broadcasts featuring Anne and Webster on their return to the UK in 1978. This is a photo of Anne and Webster shortly after their return with Penny, a dog to whom Webster was deeply devoted.

 

Woman’s HourBBC Radio 2, 6 May 1970 14.01 Introduced by: Marjorie Anderson. ANNE ZIEGLER and WEBSTER BOOTH talk to SUE MACGREGOR. JILL BALCON. They were living in Knysna, South Africa when this broadcast was recorded.

Woman’s Hour – BBC Radio 4 FM, 12 May 1978 13.45 Introduced from Wales by Sue MacGregor. In Harmony: ANNE ZIEGLER and WEBSTER BOOTH have recently set up home in Wales after 20 years in South Africa.

  1978 – BBC Afternoon. Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, interviewed by Mavis Nicholson

Pierrots and Fol de Rols – BBC Radio 4 FM, 23 May 1979 19.45 Cyril Fletcher revives memories of Concert Party with the help of many stars and personalities who started their careers there, including ARTHUR ASKEY, JACK WARNER, STANLEY HOLLOWAY, LESLIE CROWTHER, BILL PERTWEE, WALTER MIDGLEY, ANNE ZIEGLER and WEBSTER BOOTH, ELSIE AND DORIS WATERS, and GREATREX NEWMAN. Research by GREATREX NEWMAN and BILL PERTWEE. Producer MICHAEL FORD BBC Birmingham.

29 August 1979. 6.20 pm Wyn Calvin, BBC Radio Wales, It’s a Grand Night for Singing. Jess Yates introduces half an hour of music with additional guests, Margaret Lacey, Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler. Producer: David Richards.Director: Islywyn Maelor Evans.

Lovers Come Back – BBC Radio 4 FM, 21 December 1979 16.10 The lives and music of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, written and presented by Frank Dixon. You could be well into your 40s without knowing what Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth meant to those of us who were around during and after the war. Anne and Webster were – and still are – all about romance. Judi Goodwin met and interviewed Anne Ziegler and Webster BoothProducer Herbert SmithBBC Manchester.
1 April 1980. Granada Television. Liz Howell at Rhos-On-Sea, North Wales. Brief interview with Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler.
Click on the link to see the video. 1980 ONLY A ROSE TV APPEARANCE
Only a Rose (Radio Series) – BBC Radio 2, 6 August 1980 21.15  Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth recall on-stage memories and back-stage glimpses of many of the great artists they have met in the theatre, concert hall and studio. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2nvwoxe5h0
Producer DAVID WELSBY BBC Birmingham.Part of Anne and Webster’s reminiscences in the Only a Rose series. More may be heard on YouTube or at Ziegler Booth Radio.

 

2 October 1980 – Nationwide. BBC 1 Television. Laurie Mayer reports from Conwy where Jess Yates, former presenter of ITV’S Stars on Sunday, has lived in seclusion since his career was destroyed by the Press, especially News of World when they discovered he was living with KAY, a girl half his age, in 1974; & interviews YATES, his companion Anita Kay, Katie Brooks, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (former singing stars, & friends of YATES. ZIEGLER & BOOTH sing to his accompaniment on electric organ.

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

January 29 1981 – BBC Two. 8.30 Russell Chat show, with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth as guests. Anne criticised the low standard of South Africans fledgling TV service. Russell Harty with his guests Dorothy Stevens & Saxon (dog who stars in films/TV), Paul Breeze & wife Lynn, Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (old radio singing stars). Ziegler & Booth talk about their marriage, why they went to South Africa & type of life they led, now back & living in N.Wales.

5 March 1981 – Russell Harty Show, BBC 2 Television. Live show from the Palace Theatre Manchester to celebrate its imminent reopening. Harty gives a history of the theatre & there are performances by and interviews with old performers. Nat Mills, Arthur English, Eric Hawkesworth paper tearer, Gill Banks and Sid Green Stagehands, Nat Jackley, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Russell Harty – BBC Two England, 20 April 1981 20.30 presents some of the memorable people, performances and happenings from his recent venture into the unpredictable world of live television, including Rod Stewart, Hot Gossip, Hercules the Bear, Peter O’Toole, Lily Tomlin, Shakin’ Stevens, The Hallé Choir, Sooty, Diana Dors, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, Jan Leeming and, of course, Grace Jones. Producers TOM GUTTERIDGE, KEN STEPHINSON. Editor GORDON WATTS

30 July 1981 – Recording started at Grampian last week of a new six-part series in which well-known people who have left the limelight are interviewed about how they have made new lives for themselves. Jimmy Mack is the interviewer for the series, which is for half -hour slots. In the first programme two former singing duos are interviewed, Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson and Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.Chris Kay is producer and director of the series, called The Time of Your Lives, and it will be shown in the Grampian area in the autumn.

13 August 1981 with Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson
—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Ah, Yes! I Remember it Well BBC Radio 2, 11 April 1982 21.00 Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, in company with The William Hand Ensemble, Harold Rich at the piano and artists on record, look back at some of the music, people and events that hold special memories for them in more than 50 years of music making. Producer DAVID WELSBY BBC Birmingham.

19 November 1982 60 Years – Local Radio Remembers BBC. A programme from the Savoy Hotel to celebrate the BBC Diamond Jubilee. Contributions from Doris Hare, Elsie Waters, Charlie Chester, Dame Anna Neagle,
Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.Music by Midnite Follies Orchestra, with
Ian Stewart (piano), Peter Duncan, Maurice Denham, Leslie Mitchell, Richard Murdoch, Percy Edwards, Henry Hall, Tony Wadsworth, Susan Briggs, Hugh Wontner, Joan Childs, Jean Melville, Basil Vernon, Reg Patrick, Judy Shirley, Charles Max-Muller, Margery Porter, Henry Hatch, Tommy Wadsworth, Anne Lenner, Al Baum, (speakers) John Parry, Evette Davis (vocalists)

—————————————————————————————————————————————–
The Golden Years – BBC Radio 2, 18 April 1984 22.00 Recalling the ballads of yesterday, and the much-loved artists who sang them, including music by Webster Booth, Anne Ziegler and Peter Dawson. Compiled and presented by Alan Keith. Producer TIM MCDONALD
Only a Rose.- BBC Two England, 31 July 1984 18.15Webster Booth, one of the finest British tenors of this century, died on 21 June this year, aged 82. In this film, made exactly a year before his death, he and his wife and partner Anne Ziegler talk about their career to James Hogg of Nationwide. It was Webster’s last television appearance. Producer JULIA MCLAREN. ONLY A  ROSE
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
 The Golden Years – BBC Radio 2, 26 November 1986 22.30 A sentimental look at the much-loved singers of the past, including Webster Booth, Anne Ziegler and Paul Robeson. Compiled and presented by Alan Keith. Producer MONICA COCKBURN.
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
Anne Ziegler (Series) – BBC Radio 2, 19 July 1987 18.30 presents some of her favourite records collected during more than 50 years of music making. Producer DAVID WELSBY BBC Pebble Mill.
It’s a Funny Business – BBC Radio 2, 14 October 1987 22.00 says Anne Ziegler. For 45 years, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were the most popular man and wife partnership in show business. Mike Craig encourages Anne to reminisce about their long, successful career. BBC Manchester.. Presenter and Producer: Mike Craig.
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
22 September 1989 – BBC2. 7.30-8.00 pm, A Hundred Not Out: Centenary of the Blackpool Opera House. Programme Number RNWF933Y, Recorded on 26 July 1989. John Mundy narrates a programme about the Blackpool Opera House, celebrating its 100 year anniversary. Lord Delfont unveils roll of honour to commemorate the centenary. Among others, Anne Ziegler recalls the glamour of the shows. Featuring Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Mike Craig, Ken Dodd, Cilla Black, Frank Carson, Mike Yarwood, Marti Webb, Charlie Chester, Formby, Tommy, Bobby Ball, Stanley Holloway, Jimmy Jewell, Bernard Delfont, Bill Waddington, Brian Crompton, Anne Ziegler, Betty Driver, Harold Fielding, Ben Warris, Josef Locke, Ken Robinson, (theatre-goer), Alfred Black, (theatre producer), Lisa Waddington, George Black (theatre producer), Dickie Hurran, Elizabeth Buzzard,Jack Taylor (theatre producer), Peter Rigby Camera), Bernie Lowe (Camera), Mel Cross (Camera), John Mundy (Narrator), Terry Wheeler (Producer).
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
The Golden Years (Series) BBC Radio 2, 30 January 1991 21.30 Last in the series featuring the great ballad singers of yesterday on record. This week featuring Richard Crooks, Lily Morris, Heddle Nash , John McCormack ,Norman Allin , Peter Dawson , Anne Ziegler and Webster BoothPresented by Alan Keith. Producer Bridget Apps.
The Seven AgesBBC Radio 2, 16 October 1991 21.30 In the last programme of the series, Anne Ziegler talks to Peter Haigh about one of the best-loved musical partnerships of the 40s and 50s – Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth – and introduces some of her favourite recordings.Producer:  David Welsby.
—————————————————————————————————————————————–
 The Webster Booth StoryBBC Radio 2, 28 June 1994 21.00 Robin Gregory recalls the life and career of the great English tenor Leslie Webster Booth, who died ten years ago this month. Booth’s widow and former singing partner Anne Ziegler shares her memories of an artist who was equally at home in oratorio or variety. Other comments come from impresario Harold Fielding,  accompanist Gladys Midgley and presenter Brian Kay, and the programme includes examples of Booth’s solo and duet recordings. Contributors to programme: Wife/soprano: Anne Ziegler, son Keith Leslie Booth, brother Edwin Norman Booth, impresario: Harold Fielding, Accompanist: Gladys Midgley (née Vernon), Former Kings Singer: Brian Kay, and soprano Lorely Dyer, second wife of Stanford Robinson. Presenter: Robin Gregory. Writer: Stephen Pattinson. Producer  Anthony Wills.
 —————————————————————————————————————————————-The Robinsons at the BBC – BBC Radio 2, 14 May 1996 21.00 Ian Wallace examines the very different conducting careers of brothers Stanford and Eric Robinson. Gwen Catley, Larry Adler, Anne Ziegler and Ivor Emmanuel are among those who recall their association with popular long-running series such as Music for You and Tuesday Serenade, and there are archive extracts featuring Maggie Teyte, Gigli and Jack Benny. Researcher Stephen Pattinson, Producer Anthony Wills.
—————————————————————————————————————————————-
Radio’s Golden Greats – BBC Radio 2, 25 October 1997 19.30 As part of the BBC’s 75th anniversary, Roy Hudd presents a gala concert from Alexandra Palace, London. Robin Stapleton conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra, with guest artists paying tribute to, among others, Anne Ziegler , Bud Flanagan and Joyce Grenfell. During the interval, Bob Sinfield looks at major events at the BBC during the war years. Producer Alan Boyd.

                                     Anne and Webster in 1983, the year before Webster’s death.

 
Compiled by Jean Collen (2014)
Updated: May 2017.

Share/Bookmark