The following messages were sent to me since I have been running this web page. I am also including additional interesting information in note form. I will protect writers’ privacy by omitting surnames. Click on the links to hear relevant recordings.
31 August 2008
I am writing a history of a music firm in New Zealand, Charles Begg and Co. They were the firm responsible for bringing Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth to New Zealand. I am trying to find out all I can about their tour here and was wondering if you have any information, and, possibly, any photographs. I have got a copy of their autobiography which does deal with the tour but would welcome any additional information.
My co-author of the book, Do you remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth?, Pamela Davies had received a book of cuttings concerned with Anne and Webster’s tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948. Pam kindly agreed to compile a list of press cuttings which featured Anne and Webster on their tour. She sent this to me by post and I e-mailed it to Clare. Clare used the list when she went to the National Library to find the cuttings. She found some of the microfiche copies indecipherable but kindly sent me typed copies of some of the articles she managed to locate.
Anne and Webster arriving in New Zealand (1948)
6 March 2009
I was searching the internet for a song called and the only one I found was on your site in the listing for the This is the song of the Pirate Ship (Heigh Hi Ho) Nursery School Sing-Along No. 2. I know the tune of the song but really need the lyrics as I can’t remember more than 2 verses and I want to teach it to my class. Are you able to help me?
Thanks a lot!
I was glad to help Sharon by sending her an MP3 of the song. She was delighted with it and looked forward to teaching it to her class.
6 March 2009
I have 3 photos of Tom Howell’s Opieros….would you like to have electronic copies?
Although the photographs were taken before Webster joined the Opieros in 1927, I was delighted to have them. They included Ken’s great grandmother’s sister, Anita Evans of Llanelli. Recently I have added an article to the blog about Tom Howell’s Opieros and I hope to find out more information about Anita’s role in the concert party soon.
8 March 2009
I am Rutland Boughton’s grand-daughter and am very interested to realize that Webster Booth sang The Faery Song from the Immortal Hour. I wondered whether you could email me and we could chat from thereon.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Rutland Boughton was on the staff of the Midland Institute, Birmingham when Webster was studying singing there with Richard Wassell. I was able to send Elaine an MP3 of Webster’s recording of The Faery Song and she, in turn, sent copies to members of her family. Later I became Facebook friends with Elaine.
20 March 2009
Their ‘autobiography’ Duet was ghostwritten by the late Frank S. Stuart. I have researched his background in my critical analysis of the Jasper Maskelyne War Magician myths.
Frank was adept at presenting amusing tales that were only loosely based on factual events.
I have not yet read Duet. I am interested in hearing from you. How accurate a memoir is it?
I exchanged several e-mails with Richard about the ghostwriter, Frank S. Stuart. Anne and Webster wrote the latter part of Duet themselves as they felt that Stuart was implying that they were pacifists (as he himself was). It says a lot for the editor at the publisher Stanley Paul that one cannot tell at what point of the book Frank S. Stuart finished writing and where Anne and Webster continued.
Update: Since then I have digitised Duet with the help of John Marwood who proofread my digitisation meticulously. It is available as a paperback and an ebook at: My Bookshop
Various other books concerning Anne and Webster are available at the same link.
10 April 2009
I was really interested to read that you have in your collection the LPs of the 1963 and 1964 performances of ELIJAH and CREATION in the PMB City Hall. I sang in both these performances as a schoolboy. Any idea how or where I could obtain a copy of either the complete version or even some extracts – and/or a copy of the album sleeves? I recall that the ELIJAH LP box featured the Rose window in the Michaelhouse chapel.
As luck would have it I had been given copies of the LPs which I had transferred to CD several years before and sent copies to the music department of Michaelhouse and to Barry Smith in Cape Town who had conducted the performance when he was director of music at Michaelhouse in 1963. I was able to send Chris the CDs by post and e-mail him a copy of the cover of Elijah which features the Rose window of the Michaelhouse chapel.
Chris shared an amusing anecdote of what had occurred at an Elijah rehearsal:
Your comment about Webster showing some strain on the high notes was possibly not only due to his age. I vividly remember a slightly risque comment he made when he arrived for the first Elijah rehearsal with the orchestra and chorus. Barry Smith had the duty of forewarning him that the Pietermaritzburg organ was pitched notoriously sharp and that the orchestra had to tune their instruments up a semitone. Without batting an eyelid, Webster assured him that it was no problem and he would just ‘wear an extra jock-strap!’, a ‘throw away line’ which was the source of much amusement to the teenage boys and girl in the chorus.
Update: September 2018. Unfortunately, the postal system in South Africa has all but collapsed since that post was written. The Rand is also in a parlous state, so the days of sending anything by post are long gone.
Elijah at Michaelhouse 1963 A brief recitative from the recording.
April 2009 SYLVIA WATSON (NEE REILLY) FROM NEW ZEALAND WRITES:
I have some information about the Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth Springs Operatic Society shows. The 1960 production of A Country Girl was held in the Springs Little Theatre, rather than the Civic Theatre which, I think, was only built in the late sixties or early
seventies. John Wilcox and Corinne van Wyk were the leads and I was in the chorus.
The Desert Song was held in the same theatre in October-November 1961. I was in the chorus again for The Desert Song. Incidentally, during the interval a young man from the audience came to the stage door and asked if he could speak to me. We married in 1964 and now live together in New Zealand. So I think we owe Anne and Webster a vote of thanks.
July 2009 Alan Marsh writes: As a teenager in the 1940s I had saved my money to go and hear Webster Booth in Sweet Yesterday at the Adelphi Theatre in London. When the night arrived, and just before the performance, they announced that Webster was ill and Heddle Nash took his place. It was magnificent of course, but it was some years before I could have the thrill of hearing Webster Booth in person, but the years of pleasure that followed, before he died, leave wonderful memories of a great English tenor.
I might add that many years ago while I was on Vancouver Island, I went into a little bookshop and came across Anne and Webster’s
delightful autobiography Duet, together with her autograph in the book. It not only made my day – but my year too! Percy Bickerdyke, the music editor of Evergreen, was doing an article on them some years ago and he was thrilled to borrow the book from me. It is one of my treasures.
21 September 2009 – My comment.
Congratulations to Sipho Fubesi (tenor) from Centane in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, who is this year’s winner of the Anne Ziegler prize at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.
14 October 2009 – My comment.
I was very sorry to hear of the death of the Scottish baritone, Ian Wallace at the age of 90. He was one of my favourite singers and I always enjoyed his pithy comments on the BBC programme My Music. He could sing opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, musicals, and Flanders and Swann with the best of them but was not above turning his hand to comic songs with great effect like I can’t do my bally bottom buttons up, Lazin’, and even the rather rude one, Never do it at the station. My personal favourite was his heartfelt singing ofLimehouse Reach by Michael Head. He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by many.
18 October 2009 – a message from Simon.
I just wanted to say how interesting and informative your blog on Anne Ziegler is and how much I have enjoyed the youtube videos. I have been listening to Anne Ziegler since I was 14 and got hold of an old LP, I’m 26 now. I was struck by the video of her singing A Song in the Night. it is beautiful and I wish so much I had it on cd. Do you know of any re-issues featuring it or anywhere I could download it? Also, I thought you may be interested to know there is a video of her on British Pathe.com singing it in 1936 – but alas no sound!!! Wasn’t she beautiful!
I sent Simon an MP3 of Anne’s recording of A Song in the Night by Loughborough. I think this is one of Anne’s best solo recordings. Click on the link to listen.
1 December 2009 – My comment.
Tenor, Sipho Fubesi is currently appearing as Paris in the RNCM production of La Belle Helene by Offenbach.
Elizabeth Anne Bailey: My mother and father, Eric and Ivy Johnson were keen amateur singers in Liverpool. My father was a rather talented tenor and might have been professional with the right encouragement. I can’t remember the details of this story well, but one day, I guess it must have been in the early eighties (?), they were wandering …along the beach in Llandudno and my mother said: ‘There’s Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’, and so it was. They fell into conversation and ended up being invited into Anne and Webster’s house for tea, much to their delight.
I replied: What a lovely story – quite typical of Anne and Webster who were friendly and down to earth. Anne was originally from Liverpool so she would have warmed to your parents from her home town. The meeting probably took place in the late seventies or early eighties, as Webster died in 1984.
Charles Jenkins: I remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth fondly from listening to them as a child on the radio. I say ‘remember fondly’ …. this is my recent feeling. As a child, I can not say that I was able to appreciate them …. but WHAT did I know then? I also think that since they were great favourites of my father, I was put off enjoying them. Some rebellions are really stupid in retrospect!
I have been listening to them anew on YouTube and have been fortunate enough to re-discover them and lucky enough to realize that they were, and still are, very, very good. I am grateful to Jean for reminding me of them.
Click on the above link to hear a recording of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler singing one of their most popular duets, Will You Remember? (Sigmund Romberg)
I have digitised Duet, the autobiography of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, published by Stanley Paul in 1951. It is available as a paperback and an epub book at: My Lulu bookstore
The introduction to the book reads as follows:
England’s most popular duettists, who have sung in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and America, and are loved by millions of radio fans, have written their love-story together.
The provincial choirboy and the little Liverpool pianist have come a long way. Webster Booth ran away from an accountant’s stool to tour England at £4 a week and sing on the piers. Anne Ziegler’s father was ruined on the cotton market, so she sang in restaurant cabaret. They met playing the lovers in “Faust” – and fell in love. But he was married already.
Concert-party struggles, pantomime rivalries, fun and peril in early films, adventures at Savoy Hill and parts in stage “flops” were followed by great successes. She was hailed as “Radio’s Nightingale”, and as a leading lady in New York and London, a film star and BBC favourite. He sang at the Albert Hall and Covent Garden, starred in the West End and on films and radio. They went half round the world together, singing.
There are two-fisted criticisms and fascinating glimpses behind the scenes in film-land, stage-land and the mad and magic world of music. The authors laugh at themselves, each other and the world as they take you with them – this boy and girl who made good in one of real life’s most moving romances.
I’ve just read Duet, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s autobiography, published by Stanley Paul & Co. in 1951.
My plan was to read it over several days, but once I’d started, I could not put it down.
In the opening chapter Webster says that ‘Someone must begin even a duet. The die is cast and I am the victim – though, no doubt, the ladies will have the last word!’
The first chapter and all subsequent odd numbers are simply headed ’Webster’; and all the even ones are headed ‘Anne’.
The last chapter of the 25 is headed ‘Webster and Anne’; and so the autobiography ends neatly with a joint effort – a duet.
The remark by Webster about ladies sets the tone. It is light, witty and amusing. There is no chapter without entertaining anecdotes.
Apparently the book was ghost-written by the late Frank S. Stuart [Frank Stanley Stuart]. Frank was adept at presenting amusing tales that were based on factual events. Mention is made of precise events in diaries, so I imagine both characters lent their diaries to the writer and spent many hours relating tales, adventures and anecdotes about the past. The two personae sound entirely plausible.
I was surprised by the strong anti-war remarks in the book; and it seems the ghost-writer was a pacifist. Apparently Webster and Anne were not happy with these remarks, and it seems surprising that the publisher allowed them to remain. Only 6 years after the end of the terrible world conflagration many readers must have felt uncomfortable about some of these remarks.
The book was published 5 years before the couple left for South Africa. It is pity we never get to hear them speaking about their years there, but perhaps 1951 was when they were at the peak of their fame. We read of the couple’s delight to be told that Queen Mary had herself picked out their act as a favourite one which she wished to hear at a Gala Variety to mark her eightieth birthday. We read of other encounters with the royal family.
It is a tale of fun and glamour, tails and crinolines, a most entertaining story – a must-read for everyone who remembers the couple, or for anyone who has just discovered them recently.
I might add that John Marwood proofread the digitised copy most meticulously. I am very grateful to him for his help.
Here is a short review of the book, published in The Age, an Australian newspaper, on 16 February 1952.
Review by Fiona Compton:
By Fiona Compton
May 31, 2016
I read this book many years ago and am delighted that it has been digitised and once again available to those who are interested in reading about the illustrious careers of tenor Webster Booth and soprano Anne Ziegler. Although the book was written by a ghost-writer, the tone of the alternate chapters written in turn by Anne and Webster captures the personalities of both writers – Webster’s writing is more measured and thoughtful than Anne’s enthusiastic, spontaneous writing. Webster Booth had one of the finest British tenor voices of the twentieth century and had a distinguished career in oratorio and recording in his own right. Anne Ziegler had a pleasant light soprano voice and a charming personality, but she was never in the same vocal class as her husband. This book is entitled “Duet”, so the emphasis of the book is on the work the couple did together as duettists on the concert and variety stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I would have liked to have heard more about Webster’s distinguished solo singing career. No doubt this book was responsible for giving people the idea that Webster was merely a romantic duettist in partnership with his wife, doing nothing more than singing light songs together with her. Despite this reservation, the book moves at lightning pace and is most enjoyable. I recommend it highly.
Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler were my singing teachers in Johannesburg. While I was studying with them I acted as Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne (who usually played the piano for students) had other engagements. We became good friends, a friendship which lasted until they died – Webster in 1984, and Anne in 2003.
I first read “Duet” when Webster brought it into the studio and gave it to me to read. I was fascinated by the lively story of their rise to fame, their romance which was fraught with difficulties because Webster was married to Paddy Prior already, and their popularity as duettists during the forties and early fifties.
This book was written when they were at the height of their fame, some years before they had income tax difficulties and eventually moved to South Africa in 1956. Perhaps it was as well that the book ended before they experienced any hardship.
I have always tried to keep Anne and Webster’s singing and illustrious careers before the public. I am sure that anyone who reads their autobiography will get a good idea of their charming personalities from reading this fascinating book. Several people who have read it recently, have described it as “unputdownable”. I hope whoever reads this review and is tempted to read the book will share that opinion of it!