28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I
sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her
blue Anglia and is a regular love.
Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!
3 September – Meet Gill Viljoen in town and we go skating. The British champion skater, Daphne Walker is there with two little girls.
We lunch at the SABC with Doreen Taylor. I talk to Arthur (tuba player) and see Edgar Cree, Gerrit Bonn and Thea Mullins’ sister, Wendy (Kim Shippey’s secretary). I go to singing and Webster gives me tea and tells me Anne is feeling a bit miserable and has probably caught a chill. She remarks on my hair style and even he says it looks beautiful. They say the lipstick they gave me looks lovely. Sing Father of Heav’n and do it well. Anne is impressed with my skates! I meet Doreen Craig after her trip to Europe.
Go into studio. Anne comes in looking too beautiful for words. She
tells me about her arthritis which keeps her in constant agony. We
decide that everyone has something to worry them.
10 September – Ear tests with Edith Sanders. I learn that Guy McG is the examiner for my Associate diploma. I go to the studio and Anne answers the door as Webster is on the phone with Mum. He comes into the kitchen and gives me a message. When Heather leaves Anne asks me if I should like to help at the theatrical garden party on 5 October with Ruth. They are on the committee – should be fun. Anne says I look more beautiful every week. They emote about all the music history I have to learn for diploma exam.
12 September – Go into studio and work very hard as diploma is looming. Anne arrives looking too lovely for words in a pretty summer dress. We run down The King and I together and she says I’m the only person to whom she can say it because S. Africans would say she was acting big! Linda Walters arrives and I go out and meet Webster on the ground floor. He is very sweet to me. Ah, what a life this is!
Go into studio. Desmond Wright calls. Lucille and Anne arrive and
Webster gives me some tea and complains about the heat. I say if I
don’t pass, he knows what I’ll do, and he says if I do, he’ll take
the keys away! I do vast amount of scales and Anne tells met to open
my mouth wider, and he says, “And a very pretty mouth it is too!”
I phone Ruth at night and we decide to go to the theatrical garden party. There is a disgusting article by Jon Sylvester in the Star about Webster. I phone the Star and complain for I feel really bitter about it!
The Star 13 September 1963. Jon Sylvester – radio critic
We go to see The
with a lovely Jack Warner of 15 years ago – very similar to studio
16 September – Ruth finishes preliminary exams. I do ear tests with Edith then go up to the studio. Webster is still in one piece after the horrible slating by Jon Silvester in the paper. They tell me all about Mabel Fenney marrying again, Anne’s anaemia, and how well Lucille sang in her exam. He makes tea for us and we make arrangements about lessons next week. We go to the Victoria hotel and dine with Uncle John and Aunt Nellie McKee up from Cape Town. I drink wine!
Go to studio. Webster phones in the afternoon, calling me Jeannie,
and asks me to accompany Selwyn and Dennis at an audition in Ansteys
building at the home of Gwen Clark on Saturday. I agree, naturally
enough. He tells me about Elijah
which he is
singing in Pietermaritzburg. I wish him luck and tell him I know
he’ll sing beautifully! He says, “Bless you, dear,” when we say
Go to studio and have dozens of phone calls including one from Brian
Morris. Linda arrives before Anne and then when she comes, I have to
show her the broken window of which she knows nothing. She says she
hopes I don’t mind playing for Dennis and Selwyn on Saturday. Anne
will probably be early in tomorrow after visit to the doctor.
Work in studio. When Anne arrives, she tells me she hasn’t got
anaemia but still feels horrid. We have tea and she tells me that
Webster refused to phone her from Michaelhouse to tell her how he is
or to enquire about the blood test she had. She is very hurt. We do
scales for the entire lesson. She gives me a lecture on my
inferiority complex. I phone Dennis’s mother to arrange to meet them
tomorrow. I wash the dishes before I leave. Lucille is doing The
in Afrikaans in Kempton Park.
Accompany Dennis and Selwyn at Gwen Clark’s penthouse in Ansteys.
Taubie Kushlik and Ockert Botha are there. The boys sing well. We
have a lovely tea after the audition (for Amahl
and the Night Visitors)
is over. I go up to the studio afterwards and Anne is still there.
She makes us coffee and tells me she loathes Gwen Clark and all the
pseudo-theatrical types in Johannesburg. She says, “You must think
I’m a bitch!” but I agree with her. She says that when they first
arrived all the society types were inviting them to the races and
other events and were not impressed that they were not rolling in
money and had to work for a living. I stay in the studio until
2.00pm. Lucille’s father arrives to talk to Anne about Lucille.
Phone Ruth who tells me about her exams and how Anne raved about me
yesterday during her lesson.
Ear tests. Edith plays me her pieces and I sing mine to her. Go to
the studio and Anne is on the phone talking to Lucille’s father. She
tells me she’s sick to death of him. She asks me to make tea and
tells me about a visit to the Capri where she had the ghastly
experience of seeing Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans. She says
Webster did phone when he arrived at Michaelhouse after all. Webster
phones the studio to say he’s home again. I wash the dishes.
Webster answers door and calls me, “Darling!” He says the trip
was fun but tiring when I ask how he is keeping. Heather sings a
ghastly wrong note and he says, “See what I mean!” We grimace at
each other for ages – lovely! Anne tells me that Lucille just
passed her exam. The examiner was not at all impressed with her
Anne comes and we do the French song and when Webster arrives, he
puts everything on tape. He says I shouldn’t take any pills – just
a glass of water! Linda W arrives and tells me she thinks I sing most
beautifully. Webster jokes with me and then says, “Darling, I wish
you all the best of luck.” Ruth phones when I get home and I say
I’ll see her at the garden party.
I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I
sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine,
as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s
where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with
my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning
out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her
blue Anglia and is a regular love.
comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his
1/- bet right now!
29 September – Go to Mrs Sullivan. Margaret arrives in a state after her exam. Mrs S tells me that Webster embarrasses her when he makes her conduct the proceedings for their nursery school record. He told her that they are very proud of me. All the orphans at Nazareth House were allowed to stay up to listen to his programme last week and were very impressed. Listen to Webster’s Great Voices and he plays his Sound an Alarm which is marvellous!
29 September – Go to studio to get the sheet music for Rendezvous. Webster answers – still with bad leg. Gertie is there with Anne and they all congratulate me on Grade VII piano exam 85%. Tell them about the record and then depart. I feel sad about Webster in many ways.
30 September – Go to see Kimberley Jim. Despite Jim Reeves being the star of the film it is very poor indeed. Webster has only a tiny part as the innkeeper but plays it well, complete with monocle.
We listen at the door to Webster singing – glorious! When it is over (with much debate) we decide to wait to see him. We go and look in at the studio and Ruth calls to him to “Come here!” He obliges like a lamb and comes out and, guess what?? He kisses us!! I mean it – he gives Ruth and me a kiss each – quite calmly and unhurriedly. We both go red.
1 April – Go to SABC in the afternoon. Johan takes men and Harry Stanton the ladies. We practise Norma and there is an improvement. Tufty has become very friendly with Gill. Talk to Ruth at interval. Says she’s very tired after dance last night. She is going on Wednesday and is shocked about the cruel cartoon.
was going to listen to Webster but tape breaks down three-quarters of
the way through. Station announcer apologises to listeners “and Mr
Webster Booth.” I am livid.
2 April – Go to SABC in evening. Gill comes early and I go with her to have supper. Ruth is there wearing blue jeans and a duffle coat. She says she also calls the Booths by their Christian names. “Stage people like that!” I hope she’s right!
4 April – Work quite hard in the morning and then go to music in afternoon.
At night I go to the SABC for Drawing Room recording. Anne and Webster greet us all – rather like the King and Queen greeting their loyal subjects – and we sit down in tense nervous state. Anne looks gorgeous in a low-cut black sheath dress and mink stole.
Programme begins and Anne sings two songs (one by Ivor Novello with his writing on it) – the Little Damozel, and He’ll Say That for My Love (Handel). She has expression and all else required of a singer. Bob Barowsky sings and a bassoonist plays. Anne and Webster sing The Second Minuet and Drink to Me Only. He puts his hand on her bare shoulder as they sing.
Ruth asks him for a lift home and he says, “Certainly, darling.” The second broadcast is fabulous. Anne sings If No One Ever Marries Me and Smilin’ Through. They sing two more duets – Love’s Old Sweet Song and another. Ruth and I wait afterwards and talk to Anne. I tell her that her singing made me cry and she is thrilled, “The highest compliment you can pay a singer!” she says. She was worried about what her voice might sound like with the cold. While we are talking a Lancashire woman comes and congratulates her and says she heard her twenty years ago in Sheffield – she’s English, you know. Says Anne, “Yes, I thought you were!” We all laugh and she says, “Oh, ‘ave I still got me accent?”
Come home after a really delightful evening. When you hear an artist like Anne you realise how far you have to go to be even half as good. It makes me feel utterly hopeless.
5 April – Listen to Webster’s programme of last week – Gé Korsten etc.
6 April – Public holiday and Ruth’s seventeenth birthday. Have a rest in the morning and then go into town for singing lesson. Webster answers door wearing white jersey with green, yellow and red stripes!
Go in. Anne is wearing tight black stovies and revealing jersey. I do scales and am in bad form – if I see them sing the next lesson is harrowing for I know how far I have to go!
makes tea for me. He forgets the sugar so goes to fetch some and Anne
tells me of Peter Broomfield’s remark on the radio. “Last night
Hennie Joubert accompanied Mi-mi-mi-mi – all the way!”
do Where E’er You Walk and somehow I just cannot sing well and
feel awful. She says I mustn’t sing too loudly in Norma.
“Everyone has their off days,” Webster says, “Today is one of
mine.” (Probably to cheer me up).
7 April – Collect my long white SABC dress and go to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s at night.
8 April – Go to Sunday School in the morning I really like the new children now.
Go to SABC in the afternoon. Mr Miller, one of the second violins in the orchestra, is on my bus. The full orchestra, Anton Hartman, Mimi Coertse, Gé K and other soloists are there. Anton works us hard. Mimi is petulant and bossy but she sings beautifully.
At interval Ruth tells me she got a Maria Callas record for her birthday and a card from the Booths. Yesterday Anne wasn’t feeling well so she asked Ruth to go to the house for a lesson while Webster went to the studio. She’s coming home with Gill and me tomorrow in Gill’s car. We manage to record last quarter of Norma.
to Webster’s G and S programme at night. He says, “After my costume
was made for this part I had my photograph taken and this constitutes
one of my few claims to fame. They put the photo into a series of G
and S cigarette cards. That dates me, doesn’t it?” He plays
Princess Ida and I fall asleep halfway through.
9 April – Have sudden urge to have my hair cut and set so have this done at Marie Distler in the morning and feel a boost to my morale. I meet Diane Munro on the bus and she doesn’t recognise me, but when she realises who I am she likes the new look a lot.
go to the SABC and we get on the bus to Pretoria. Ruth says the
Booth’s house is small and not much to look at from the outside, but
charming but whimsical within.
we arrive in Pretoria we are fed with hamburgers at Tukkies’
cafeteria. We go into the Aula theatre – it seats 3000 people. We
Anton lets us go home at 11.00 pm. Ruth and I go home with Gill. She and Ruth have an argument about the choir on the journey home. Ruth has a very nice house, white double-storey with undergrowth and trees in the garden.
stays quite near her (also in Parkwood) and has a flatlet to herself.
I go to sleep quickly.
10 April – Go to town with Gill and then go home. Go to SABC once more, armed with box containing white dress.
Ruth and Gill arrive and we sit at the very back of the bus. Ruth says Anne and Webster should have had children of their own. She whistles beautifully and we travel along in a state of semi-consciousness. We arrive and change into our dresses, parade around for a while and have a meat roll for supper in the cafeteria.
house is absolutely packed – men in evening dress, orchestra in
evening dress, and furs flying, Hartman in tails and Mimi in a black
dress with silver top showing her vast chest. She sings well and
there are shouts of “bravo!”. She takes bows and we take bows and
it is interval.
Gill has tea with Uncle Edgar and Johan, but Ruth and I don’t have anything to drink!
Second half is much better although Jossie Boshoff lets the side down. We finish at ten. Cheers, curtain calls, excitement, bouquets for soloists, an orchid for Mimi…
Return to Parkwood and Ruth is very rude about Edgar Cree, saying that he had a broad accent and puts on his good one. Gill says that he studied at Cambridge. I say I like him as a broadcaster. Gill and Ruth are probably enemies for life.
11 April – Go into town very early in the morning and get home in time for breakfast. Farewell to Parkwood.
to have a rest when there is a knock at the door – Roselle arrives
with music and a dog. She wasn’t placed in the eisteddfod and is most
disappointed. We sing for each other and record the results.
Go to music in the afternoon and go to SABC in the evening. We go into studio and Anton H begins his recording. At interval, Ruth and I go to have a cold drink at nearby café and return with the same object in view – the recording of TheDrawing Room!
listen at the door to Webster singing – glorious! When it is over
(with much debate) we decide to wait to see him. We go and look in at
the studio and Ruth calls to him to “Come here!” He obliges like
a lamb and comes out and, guess what?? He kisses us!! I mean it –
he gives Ruth and me a kiss each – quite calmly and unhurriedly. We
both go red.
tells us the programme is gorgeous, particularly the brilliant
trumpeter. Why don’t we come in and we tell him we’re recording with
Mimi. He says, “Oh yes. You’re working.”
tells us about the eisteddfod. The tenor got a first and quite a few
more were highly placed.
say we’ll have to be going and Ruth walks straight into the men’s
cloakroom! He says diplomatically, “The exit is there, and the
ladies is over there!” We depart – Ruth nearly hysterical and I
go back to recording and tell Gill and Tufty about the kiss and Gill
says, “Since I saw Webster Booth going into the ladies change rooms
with a bottle of brandy, I’ve had no time for him!”
leave before the recording ends and look out for my father. The first
person I meet is Webster, leaving with a retinue of seemingly
important men. He stops when he sees me and asks, “Has the
recording finished?” I say, “No. I’m looking for my father.” He
says, “D’ye think he’ll come?” I say, “Oh yes,” and he says
“Well cheery-bye, Jean,” and I say, “Cheerio.”
appears and we come home. But honestly, what a night. Mimi gave us
some prima donna tactics. (“They do,” says Webster) and she
leaves the country tomorrow.
in Ruth’s night and mine, one thing stands out!
kissed us when we met,
from the chair he sat in,
you thief, who loves to get sweets into your list,
don’t care what anyone says about them – or him. Even if it’s all
true, I know one thing. He is a great man, a great singer and a
pleasure to know!
12 April – Work and record the glorious Drawing Room programme with Oh, Dry Those Tears and the Kashmiri Song.
13 April – In the afternoon I go to the SABC to claim my lost purse. The receptionist tells me proudly that Johan handed it in so I tell her to thank him for me. Honest Hans.
I go to the studio. I see Webster in the CNA so I walk round the block and when I get back I go in almost immediately for the girl before me doesn’t come. Anne likes my hair. We fill in the form for the exam and she tells Webster not to interfere and he looks hurt. We have a glorious fifteen minutes running down Anton H, Jossie Boshoff etc. Anne says that Adalgisa should be a contralto, but of course, Jossie had to have a part.
We talk about Mabel Fenney and I say that she taught at our school for a term. Anne says she was batty but worked like mad.
We work at songs and vocal studies and they encourage me to smile (as always!) All great singers of previous generations sold their songs even if they didn’t have good voices such as John Coates, Anne tells me.
I wait for the lift and when it arrives I open it, thinking no one is
there. Get a shock to see Webster. He laughs and says, “Did I
startle you, Jean? I’m sorry!”
16 April – Go to choir at night and have supper with Gill and feel like a traitor. We do Stravinsky. Sit with Ruth at interval and we talk about drinking. Apparently her father is a connoisseur of wine. Her parents went to a première at Colosseum costing £5 a ticket!
I start telling her what Gill said about Webster but we have to go back before I can finish the tale. I get her to promise not to mention anything about this incident to Gill in the car. I think Gill overhears this. I feel very muddled about the whole matter. It’s all Gill’s fault for telling me this story and trying to disillusion me about him.
17 April – Go to studio and Webster answers the door. Girl with high but harsh voice is singing Waltz of My Heart and This is My Lovely Day. High notes are quite awful. Anne is wearing a brick red dress.
work hard at all the exam pieces.
tell them that I’m going to Durban on holiday. He asks if I’m going
to the Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks, and I say we’re going to the
18 April – Oh, dear! A terrible thing happens in the broadcast of Drawing Room. It all goes nicely until the last announcement which goes like this, “Now, on behalf of Madame Jean Gluckman, Miss Kathleen – oh, I beg your pardon – Madame Kathleen Allister, Miss Jean er er – oh, yes – Miss Jean Gluckman – that’s right, Mr Gé Korsten and myself, Webster Booth, goodnight – Oh dear, I’d better do that all over again, hadn’t I? Now on…” (Cut short)
Obviously the controller reproduced the wrong announcement and not the repeat, so he’ll get into trouble. It damns him in the eyes of the public and perhaps the SABC. He sounded old, doddery and drunk. He couldn’t have heard the broadcast tonight. If he wasn’t making a programme he’d be at the prize-winners concert. He’s going to get a nasty shock when he hears about it. I saw him that night and he wasn’t drunk but what will people think?
19 April – Programme is done correctly today. Work hard and go to choir at night. Ruth comes and we talk about the mess and she is most distressed. We work at Stravinsky. Ruth wishes father and me a happy Easter.
20 April – Good Friday. I talk to Peter Marsden who is back from the army for two days leave.
listen to our SABC choir recording of the Passion and Cantata. It is
lovely and I am proud of it.
21 April – Go skating in the morning after a long absence. Dawn Vivian is there. My skating is more or less the same but I’m a bit stiff. She tells me that Gwyn has joined the cast of Holiday on Ice and has gone touring all over the world and doesn’t intend returning to SA.
I buy theory questions in Kelly’s and wander around John Orrs. We see Swiss Family Robinson in the afternoon – John Mills, Cecil Parker etc.
22 April – Go to Sunday School and church. I still haven’t got my music from Peter who has given up his singing lessons after less than three months!
and Mrs Watts come from Vanderbijl for lunch. They like the Booths. I
sing for them and they are impressed – or are polite!
to Webster and he finishes Princess Ida and promises to start
Mikado next week when I’ll probably be on holiday.
27 April – Go to singing and Anne arrives looking very attractive. She says she’s exhausted because of the production of Vagabond King in Springs. They have to go there every night and are furious that some members of the cast haven’t even learnt their parts properly. She had to go by herself on Wednesday because Webster was doing the last recording of Drawing Room and there was an awful storm on the way there.
says I should practise singing octaves and chromatics when I’m on
holiday. He says, “I can’t sing a chromatic scale – I never
could!” We decide that the only way to do that is to count the
notes on our fingers!
I say that Johan has given me work for my holiday for forthcoming Stravinsky concert. Anne asks if tenors are weak in the choir and I say, “Rather!” He tells me, “They wrote me a letter asking if I’d sing in the chorus for the Stravinsky concert.” I say, “What!”
She says, “We don’t want to act big or anything but, I mean to say, the chorus!” I say I think it is a real insult and he agrees with me. I say, “Are you going to?” and he replies, “Not likely! I phoned them up and said I had no intention of rehearsing every Saturday night for Stravinsky!” Boy, what an insult!
says that people will only go to the Stravinsky concerts for snob
We do Where E’er You Walk and work at it. She says I can sing scales on the seashore. I laugh, and he says, “Don’t laugh! I’ve sung whole scores on the seashore. Vagabond King, Waltz Time. People think you’re mad but it’s a wonderful place to sing.”
He makes tea and asks if I’d like a cup. I say, “It doesn’t matter,” and Anne says, “Stay and have a cup. It’ll be ready in five minutes.”
There is a knock at the door – An English lady with little boy (soprano) and a gorgeous hot apple tart so Anne decides that we’ll all have tea and apple tart. “Can we eat it now?” she asks. Mrs Andrews and her son, Dennis are sweet and homely with delightful accents. Webster says, “Where’s the Devonshire cream?” and she says, “Oh, I forgot it at home.” Anne says, “Some of us are from the North Country and Jean comes from Scotland.” Anne takes a piece of cake with cloves, spice and apple and says, “To hell with my figure!”
notices that I eat left-handed as does she and she remarks on it, so
I say, “All great people are left-handed.” We all laugh.
talk about Drawing Room and Webster tells me that Doris Brasch
(he spelt her name BRASH and she was livid) and Graham Burns were the
soloists on Wednesday. Anne says, “What did you think of Wednesday
night’s programme? My singing was really awful, wasn’t it!” We
protest and she adds, “It wasn’t lovely. It was disgusting!”
When I say goodbye to Anne I promise to send them a postcard and she says, “You can tell me if you manage to sing any octaves on the seashore!”
talk to Dennis’s mother and we say how sweet they are. Dennis calls
them Auntie Anne and Uncle Webster. They are wonderful and I love
29 April – Mr Marsden kindly gives us a lift to the airport and we eventually board the plane and have a delightful flight to Durban. It’s the first time I have ever flown – it was more like a bus than a plane. The land below looks like a map of physical geography.
We arrive at the Berkeley Hotel where I met Maisie Weldon and Carl Carlisle five years ago. We have a walk along the seafront but I can hardly see myself singing scales there. My room has a radio so I’ll be able to listen to Drawing Room and G and S. I listen to G and S. Webster bursts into song periodically during Mikado.
30 April – We go into town and to the lunch hour concert. Swim in the afternoon in the same pool where we swam five years ago, and I play the piano in the lounge at night.
The following people studied singing with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth at their studio on the eighth floor of Polliack’s Building, Pritchard Street, Johannesburg, or at their home in Parktown North. The list is incomplete as it has been compiled from memory and from the diaries I kept at the time I was accompanying for Webster in the studio. In some cases, I have forgotten people’s full names.
LUCILLE ACKERMAN (Soprano) I was in the middle of my lesson when Lucille and her family arrived for her audition. She had spent a year recuperating after an illness on the family farm near Piet Retief. During that year she had worked at improving her singing technique. Hendrik Sussann, the well known Afrikaans bandleader and violinist, lived on a neighbouring farm. He featured her as a singer in his band’s broadcasts on the SABC. She was nineteen years old – a year older than me – and she had a remarkably mature and pleasing soprano. She was already a consummate performer, but needed lessons to improve her musicianship. She and I did several singing examinations at the same time.
During her studies with Anne and Webster, she took the lead in an Afrikaans production of The Merry Widow in Kempton Park. She went on to make a number of Afrikaans recordings and formed a successful duet partnership with the broadcaster, the late Francois van Heyningen, who became her second husband.
DENNIS ANDREWS (boy soprano) I played for Dennis and Selwyn Lotzoff at an audition for Taubie Kushlick’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. The audition took place one Saturday morning in Gwen Clark’s luxurious penthouse on top of Anstey’s Building in central Johannesburg. I accompanied the boys on an excellent grand piano, and afterwards we were treated to a slap-up tea with Mrs Kushlick, Mrs Clark and Ockert Botha. Neither boy won the part of Amahl as a boy soprano was imported from England.
DORIS BOULTON (soprano) Doris Boulton was originally from the Potteries district of England. Her husband worked at a pottery near Irené, on the outskirts of Pretoria. She had an exceptional soprano voice and was also extremely musical – the two gifts do not always go together! She had broadcast extensively with the SABC, but with a change of management, her file was mysteriously lost and she was required to re-audition. This second audition was not favourable, despite her being a better singer than many who continued to give regular broadcasts.
She was singing Richard Strauss’s Serenade in an impossible key, and my attempt at sight-reading this makes me blush even forty-odd years on. Doris and her husband gave Anne and Webster a beautiful white tiled table, inscribed with roses and a few bars of their signature tune, Only a Rose, made by Mr Boulton on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary in 1963.
In 1966 Doris Boulton produced The Merry Widow in Irené and took the leading role of the widow in question, Hannah Glavari.
Doris remained friends with Anne and Webster and visited them a number of times in Penrhyn Bay. She returned to the UK some years ago and settled in Stone. I was sorry to hear from her daughter, Jan Bruns that Doris had passed away in 2008.
HEATHER COXON (soprano) Heather was a charming young schoolgirl. She had a light, sweet soprano.
ROSELLE DEAVALL (mezzo soprano) I first heard Roselle sing when she was fourteen years old. I was impressed at the maturity of her voice at such a young age. We discovered that we lived in the same suburb, and visited each other several times. I still have a reel-to-reel recording of her singing The Mountains of Morne, complete with Irish accent.
She stopped having lessons but took them up again after she left school. In 1966 Webster told me that Roselle had stopped having lessons with them as “They were unable to teach me anything more.” The last I heard was that she was singing with the Performing Arts Company of the Free State. (PACOFS).
NORMA DENNIS (soprano) Norma was the understudy to Diane Todd in the role of Eliza in the production of My Fair Lady in the Empire Theatre, Johannesburg.
Mabel Fenney (extreme left) as Jill-all-Alone in East London production of Merrie England. (Photo courtesy of Julian Nicholas)
MABEL FENNEY PERKIN (soprano) Mabel met Anne and Webster first when she appeared with them in a production of Merrie England in East London, in the Eastern Cape. At the time she was preparing for further music diplomas, so she decided to come up to Johannesburg to have lessons with the Booths.
In 1960 she came to Jeppe Girls’ High as a relief music teacher and gave a recital for the girls in the School Hall. She was instrumental in my decision to study with Anne and Webster. She won the University of South Africa Singing Bursary and studied at the Hochschule in Berlin for two years.
She met her second husband, Maurice Perkin while she was abroad and after her divorce and remarriage to Maurice, she lived and worked in England for a number of years before they came out to South Africa. During her time in England, she sang the role of Susannah in a semi-professional production of The Marriage of Figaro. I met her again in 1976 when she was living in Florida (South Africa) and we became very good friends. We sang duets together until she and her husband retired to the South Coast of Natal.
In April 2009 Mabel celebrated her ninetieth birthday. She died in Uvongo on 6 March 2011, just a month short of her ninety-second birthday. She is sadly missed but ever remembered by me.
VALERIE FIGGINS (soprano) Valerie Figgins also attended Jeppe Girls’ High School, and she too was present at the Mabel Fenney recital. Valerie had a strong voice at an early age and studied with another teacher in Johannesburg before going to Anne and Webster for lessons. I do not know how long she remained with them. We were in the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal’s (PACT) production of Nabucco together in 1965.
ROBINETTE GORDON (soprano) Robin had a sweet soprano voice. When I first met her when I was accompanying for Webster she was singing in the Johannesburg Operatic Society’s production of Show Boat, in which the great Maori bass, Inia Te Wiata was engaged to sing Ole Man River. She went on to sing in further JODS productions of The Yeomen of the Guard, The Merry Widow and Guys and Dolls. I remember coaching her in a jazzy chorus in the latter work – Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat! She later joined PACT, where she sang in a number of operas. I was sorry to read of her death several years ago.
MARY HARRISON (mezzo soprano) Mary was an Australian who came to South Africa with a production of My Fair Lady. She and the understudy to Scottish Diane Todd’s Eliza Doolittle, Norma Dennis, took lessons with Anne and Webster while they were appearing in My Fair Lady in Johannesburg. Mary was an attractive redhead, with a lively personality and ready wit. She stayed on in South Africa after the show and established herself as a professional actress in Durban. She died prematurely some years ago. I was also sorry to hear that Diane Todd died from leukemia in London earlier this month (April 2010) at the age of 72.
DUDLEY HOLMES (bass) Dudley was completely taken aback to find me at the piano for one of his lessons. He told me later that he had never sung for anyone but Anne and Webster and was very nervous to sing in front of me. He need not have worried. He had a pleasing bass voice, and went on to do many concerts, recitals and shows, first in Johannesburg, and later in Kimberley, where he lived for many years. He returned to Johannesburg some years ago and kindly contributed a memory to my book with an article about his long association and friendship with Anne and Webster.
INNES KENNERSLEY I played for Innes, who was a miner, several times. At the time he was singing a series of Victorian and Edwardian ballads, such as Goodbye and Parted. He used to arrive at his lesson with a large reel-to-reel tape recorder and record the entire lesson. I wonder what happened to all those interesting recordings. They would certainly be of great interest to me if they are still around.
MYRNA LEACH I played at some of Myrna’s lessons and got to know her better when we were in The Merry Widow together in 1964. She had recently married and was particularly proud that Webster had sung My Prayer at her wedding. I believe she subsequently divorced and married for a second time later.
MARGARET LINKLATER (soprano) Margaret was Scottish and lived on the East Rand, where her family ran a bakery in Benoni. She had a very pleasing soprano voice. I remember her singing Gounod’s O Divine Redeemer.
ROBIN LISTER (boy soprano) Robin had an exceptional soprano voice, more like a mature female soprano than the typical Ernest Lough boy soprano. He made several recordings which Anne and Webster supervised. Through the recordings he became well known and appeared at a number of concerts until his voice broke. After his voice broke, Anne and Webster taught him to play the piano. He became an engineer and immigrated to Australia. Robin Lister sings “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”.
SELWYN LOTZOFF (boy soprano) I played for Selwyn at several eisteddfods and at the Amahl and the Night Visitors audition. I particularly remember him singing the Afrikaans song, Die Roos. He immigrated to America and now lives in New York. He is pictured (above left) with his wife.
COLLEEN MCMENAMIN (mezzo soprano) Colleen had a rich mezzo voice and she was very keen to turn professional. She auditioned for Brian Brooke’s production of The Sound of Music at the Brooke Theatre. Brian Brooke was impressed with her singing but suggested that she should take speech lessons before considering a stage career. Despite this setback she appeared in several professional productions in Johannesburg.
BRIAN MORRIS (baritone) He had a voice reminiscent of Peter Dawson’s and a confident stage presence. I got to know him better when he sang in PACT’s production of Nabucco in 1965. Anne chose Brian to take the leading male role of Danillo in her Bloemfontein production of The Merry Widow in 1965. Through this blog I have heard that Brian died in 2006 and is survived by his wife Denise. Those who heard him sing through the years will remember his beautiful voice and charming personality.
PIET MULLER (tenor) Piet Muller had a beautiful tenor voice. He was studying with Anne and Webster in 1962 and for a time had the lesson before mine. I particularly remember him singing Can I Forget You? on the day Webster returned to the studio after his serious illness in 1962. Webster sang part of the song to illustrate a particular point to Piet. Amazingly, Webster’s voice sounded as good as ever despite his illness and his advancing age. Several years ago I heard from Piet’s family member that Piet had died some years ago.
RUTH ORMOND (soprano) Ruth was my special friend at the studio. She and I joined the SABC choir,when it was resurrected in 1961, and Anne suggested that we should meet one another. She was still at school, a year-and-a-half younger than me and, like me, she was originally from Glasgow. She was short, with piercing blue eyes and honey-coloured hair. We both thought the world of Anne and Webster and we loved singing, although neither of us was filled with confidence about our vocal abilities. We did exams together and although we lived a fair distance apart, we visited each other regularly. We made up for the distance between us by making frequent telephone calls. At the cost of a tickey (3d) a call, we could afford to talk as long as we liked – and we did! We made tape recordings of our singing and impromptu play-readings. I still have these recordings in my possession today. In 1962 her mother won a substantial amount of money in the (then) Rhodesian Sweep.
Ruth went to Cape Town University to study singing in 1964 and sadly died of a cerebral haemorrhage at the end of her first term there. Her parents created an award in her name at Cape Town for the best first-year soprano. She was nineteen years old when she died. I still miss her. I have never had a dearer friend.
LINDA WALTERS Linda came all the way from Vereeniging for her singing lessons. She sang lighter material, like Fly me to the Moon.
ERNEST WESTBROOK (tenor) I did not know Ernest when he was taking lessons, but I met him many years later when Paddy O’Byrne, the broadcaster gave him my phone number. He had many of Anne and Webster’s recordings and was also an admirer of the Australian bass-baritone, Peter Dawson.
MARY WRIGHT (soprano) Mary’s brother, Desmond Wright, had conducted The Yeomen of the Guard in 1963 when Webster took over the role of Colonel Fairfax at short notice. She had a pleasant light soprano and concentrated on oratorio.
OTHERS: Richard Darley, Elizabeth du Plessis (soprano), Jennifer Fieldgate, John Fletcher, Yvonne Marais (soprano), Joan Metson, Thea Mullins, Betsie Oosthuizen (soprano), Bill Perry (tenor), Piet van Zyl (bass).
I do not remember the full names of the following: Corrie, Dell, Erica, Ferdy, Frances and Henrietta (sisters who sang duets together), Gertie, Graham, Gretchen, Miss Greyvenstein, Hennie, Janet, Kathy, Leanore, Lorentzia, Louella, Louis, Marian, Myrtle, Nellie (a mezzo-soprano who moved to the Free State), Reeka, Shirley, Winnie (a Scot who lived in Modderfontein and sang in the local operatic society).
If anyone can tell me what became of any of Anne and Webster’s pupils, or if you studied with them, I would be very glad to hear from you.