read a post in The Golden Age of British Dance Bands by Javier Soria
Laso about a data bass on the internet:
I discovered a number of recordings by Webster Booth
which I had not seen before – some of them had never been released.
He featured in recordings by the HMV
Light Opera Company
and the Light
Opera Male Chorus,
sometimes in the chorus and sometimes as a soloist. I have included
these recordings in my original list of missing recordings.
wonder whether the unreleased recordings are still in circulation or
whether they were discarded by HMV. I have a recording of Beauty’s
(Tosti) which is marked as unreleased, also Anne Ziegler’s test
recording of the Waltz
Possibly they were obtained from the Booths’ private record
anyone has any of the recordings listed below, I would be very glad
to have an MP3 of any one of them so that I can add it to the list of
recordings in this group.
BOOTH: Test recordings Serenata, Macushla Webster Booth, Reginald
Paul, C Studio, Small Queens Hall, London, 20 November 1929.
Comes the Bride Selection (Schwartz)
with Alice Moxon, Stuart Robertson, Webster Booth, George Baker/Ray
Noble/Studio C, Small Queens Hall, London/Cc18897-4,
25 March 1930.
Three Musketeers: Vocal Gems (Friml, Grey & Woodhouse),
Queen of my
heart, Your eyes, March of the Musketeersparts
1 and 2, C Studio, Small Queen’s Hall, London, 7
April 1930. LIGHT OPERA COMPANY, ORCHESTRA: RAY NOBLE, ALICE
MOXON soprano, BESSIE JONES soprano, NELLIE WALKER contralto, ESSIE
ACKLAND contralto, WALTER GLYNNE tenor, WEBSTER BOOTH tenor,
GEORGE BAKER baritone, STUART ROBERTSON bass-baritone.
C1920 C B Cochrane’s 1930 Revue: Vocal Gems, parts 1 and 2 : Piccadilly, With a song in my heart, Heaven, All the things you do, Part 2: Bakerloo, Just as we used to do, The wind in the willows, What became of Mary? C Studio, Small Queen’s Hall London, 16 May 1930. LIGHT OPERA COMPANY, ORCHESTRA: RAY NOBLE, BESSIE JONES soprano, Alice MOXON soprano, NELLIE WALKER contralto, ESSIE ACKLAND contralto, WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, WALTER GLYNNE tenor, GEORGE BAKER baritone, STUART ROBERTSON bass-baritone.
Pinafore Vocal Gems/Gilbert
and Sullivan, Anne Welch, Victor Conway, Doris Owens, Webster Booth
alone because I love you (Joe Young)/ When it’s sunset on the Nile
(Ray Ellison & Ted Renard) Kensington
Cinema, London, 6 March 1931. WEBSTER
BOOTH tenor, W. BRUCE-JAMES organ Not released by HMV.
White Horse Inn: Vocal gems (Benatzky-Stolz), parts 1: White
Horse Inn, My song of love, Your eyes; Part 2 Ho-Dri-Ho, Goodbye,
Sigesmund, It would be wonderful, Small Queen’s Hall London,
8 May 1931/14 May 1931, LIGHT OPERA COMPANY, Orchestra: RAY
NOBLE, BESSIE JONES soprano, NELLIE WALKER soprano, ESSIE
ACKLAND contalto, GEORGE BAKER baritone, STUART ROBERTSON
bass-baritone,JOHN TURNER tenor,WEBSTER BOOTH tenor.
I have this recording. Webster must feature in the chorus for his solo voice cannot be heard.
No 2 Studio, Abbey Road London, 7 November
Orchestra: RAY NOBLE, JOHN TURNER tenor, WEBSTER BOOTH tenor,
WALTER GLYNNE tenor, LEONARD GOWINGS tenor, GEORGE BAKER
baritone, STUART ROBERTSON bass-baritone, EDWARD HALLAND bass.
Robert Burns Medley, parts 1 and 2: My love is like a
red red rose,Green grow the rashes-O, Afton Water, No 2 Studio,
Abbey Road London, 5 December 1932, LIGHT OPERA
COMPANY (orchestra: LAWRENCE COLLINGWOOD) ALICE MOXON
soprano, BESSIE JONES soprano, NELLIE WALKER soprano, ESSIE
ACKLAND contralto, WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, WALTER GLYNNE tenor,
GEORGE BAKER baritone, DENNIS ARUNDEL baritone.
including Peter Dawson, Webster Booth, Walter Glynne, George Baker,
Gladys Peel, Essie Ackland. Date
Columbia DB 1658 ORCHESTRE RAYMONDE, with Webster Booth, tenor and Angela Parselles, soprano, Cond. George Walter (real name Walter Goehr) Date unknown.
B8078 A dream of paradise (Claude Littleton & Hamilton Gray)/The old rustic bridge by the mill (Joseph P Skelly) Kingsway Hall, London, 23 October 1933, WALTER GLYNNE tenor, CHORUS, organ HERBERT DAWSON (orchestra Lawrance COLLINGWOOD) WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, JOHN TURNER tenor, EDWARD HALLAND baritone, PETER DAWSON bass-baritone, GEORGE BAKER baritone.
Sweet Genevieve (Tucker), solo STUART ROBERTSON; At
Trinity Church (Fred Gilbert), solo GEORGE BAKER; The honeysuckle and
the bee (Fitz & Penn), solo STUART ROBERTSON; b) If you want
to know the time (E W Rogers), solo GEORGE BAKER Studio No
1, Abbey Road London England, 7 November 1933 LIGHT
OPERA MALE CHORUS (orchestra: CLIFFORD GREENWOOD) WEBSTER
BOOTH tenor, JOHN TURNER tenor, EDWARD HALLAND bass, LEONARD HUBBARD
The saucy Arethusa (trad.), solo STUART ROBERTSON; The
Bay of Biscay (Davy) Studio No 1, Abbey Road, London, 7
November 1933, LIGHT OPERA MALE CHORUS (orchestra
CLIFFORD GREENWOOD) WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, JOHN TURNER
tenor, EDWARD HALLAND bass, LEONARD HUBBARD baritone
glory of the Motherland (McCall); England (Besly);
No 2 Studio, Abbey Road, London ,11 January 1934 PETER
bass-baritone (orchestra: CLIFFORD GREENWOOD), MALE
TURNER, tenor, WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, GEORGE BAKER baritone, STUART
sung in English: O sole mio; Torna; Funiculì Funiculà Studio
1, London, 20 December 1935, LIGHT
OPERA COMPANY, Orchestra:
WALTER GOEHR, INA SOUEZ (sop), WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Chorus
Tosti Medley Part 1: Parted; Marechiare; Vorrei morire; Part
2: L’ultima canzone; Ideale; Mattinata; Goodbye, Studio 1.
London 11 February 1936, LIGHT OPERA COMPANY Orchestra: WALTER
GOEHR, INA SOUEZ (sop), WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Chorus 8 men
Spanish Medley, part 1 – Perjura; Lolita; La paloma;
part 2 – La partida, El relicario; Ay ay ay, Studio
1, London, 10 February 1936 (as Sevillian
Serenaders) LIGHT OPERA COMPANY (orchestra:
WALTER GOEHR) INA SOUEZ (sop), WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Chorus 8 men.
song (German)/Indian love call (Friml) Studio 3, London ,10
March 1936, ANNE ZIEGLER (sop)(p) Test recordings.
all alone/May; I’ll
wait for you/
Webster Booth, Conductor: George
Scott-Wood, Studio 2, London, 21 July 1936, released December 1936,
deleted July 1939.
– Gramophone. Webster
Booth is a little off colour this month in two songs by May and
Feiner, I’m All Alone
and I’ll Wait for You,
both with orchestra on HMV B8476 (2S. 6d.), but this does not detract
from the fact that Mr Booth is probably the finest light tenor before
the public to-day.
RAPTURE Selection (Ivor Novello)
Why Is There Ever Goodbye?/Music In May,
The Manchuko/Finale – Music In May. 23
in December 1936 and deleted in April 1941.
of Lehár, part
are my heart’s delight, Love’s melody, Smokeland, Gipsy
Foreign Legion, Count of Luxembourg, Love’s melody Studio
2, London, 23 October 1936, LIGHT
soloists ERIKA STORM, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten), BBC Male Voice
Quartet (orchestra: WALTER GOEHR)
(Novello) Webster Booth, Muriel Barron (number
and date unknown)
star/Little Son (Bassett Silver), Studio 1 London 10
February 1937 WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) (orchestra: CLIFFORD
was sent these recordings by Bassett Silver’s son.
mine (Sievier, de Rance) Studio 1, London, 10 February
1937 WEBSTER BOOTH (ten)(orchestra WALTER GOEHR) Unissued.
O fair vision (Delibes, trans Claude Aveling) London,3
March 1939 WEBSTER BOOTH (ten), LONDON PHILHARMONIC
ORCHESTRA (WARWICK BRAITHWAITE) Unissued.
and pure fraught with love (Flotow, trans Claude Aveling) London, 3
March 1939, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten), LONDON PHILHARMONIC
ORCHESTRA:WARWICK BRAITHWAITE. Unissued.
Webster Booth (tenor) Ernest Lush (piano) 11 August 1939
DB 1877 MELODY OF THE WALTZ – Part 1: Waltzes by Gung’l; MELODY OF THE WALTZ; Part 2 : Waltzes by Gung’l, THE BOHEMIANS: light orchestra with Al Bollington at the Abbey Road studio Compton organ and Webster Booth, tenor. Released in October 1939 and deleted in February 1944.
Rosita (Kennedy/Carr)/When you wish upon a star (Harline &
Washington)(Pinocchio) Studio 1, London, 28
February 1940, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) (orchestra CHARLES PRENTICE)
Released April 1940.
Deleted February 1944.
Rose of England: Crest of the Wave (Novello)/Beauty’s Eyes (F Paolo Tosti; F J Weatherley) Studio 3, London,27 March, 1941. WEBSTER BOOTH (ten)(piano GERALD MOORE) Unissued.
have Webster’s recording of Beauty’s
Merrie England: Come to Arcadie (German) Studio 3, London, 19 October 1941,
ZIEGLER (sop), WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) (orchestra: DEBROY SOMERS)
July 1945 – War records Webster Booth, Sydney Burchall and Clarence Wright, sang in Songs Our Boys Sang and Marching Times.
records were not for sale to the general public, but sets were
available at most of the 5300 National Savings Centres throughout the
Country. Further information was available from the National
Savings Committee, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, SW1.
in the stilly night (trad; Tom Moore)/There is no death
(O’Hara; Johnstone) St Mark’s Church, Hamilton
Terrace, London , 11 January,1946 , WEBSTER
BOOTH (ten) (organ HERBERT DAWSON) Unissued. Webster also made
a recording of There is no Death for HMV which was issued.
October 1946 Gramophone Webster Booth (tenor), Gerald Moore (piano): All Soul’s Day, opus No 8 (Bernhoff/Richard Strauss); Memory Island (Askew/Harrison) HMV B9502 (10”)
setting of All Soul’s Day
calls for singing of considerable emotional stress, and when Webster
Booth gets impassioned his voice loses the easy charm that is its
chief characteristic. His words are a model of distinctness and the
accompaniment of Gerald Moore is perfect, but the song is not a very
The singer is more at
home in Memory Island,
in which a sailor home from the sea for good, casts his memory back,
Masefield-wise, to the blue lagoons, coral islands and what not of
the rover. It is a nice song with, for its type, an unusually good
a song (V Youmans; W Rose and E Eluscu)/ My song goes round the world
(E Neubach; English version K J Kennedy, ?Hans May) London,8 January 1948, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Orchestra: ERIC
my songs were only winged (Reynaldo Hahn) London, 11 July
1950, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Orchestra: MARK LUBBOCK Unissued.
Maritza: Komm Zigeuner (Kalman; McConnell) London,20
December 1950, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Orchestra: MARK LUBBOCK
of the Heart (Ketelby); He
Bought My Heart At Calvary (Hamblen)
with choir of St Stephen’s Church Dulwich, Fela Sowande (organ)
In 1926 Doctor Malcolm Sargent (as he was then) took over as conductor for the London season at the Prince’s Theatre and Leslie considered that period to be one of his happiest and most fulfilling times with the company. It was then when he asked Sargent to listen to his voice and tell him whether he thought he could make it as an opera singer. Sargent told him that if he did not have a private income he should forget about singing in opera as the pay was very poor.
As a young man, Webster Booth was serving articles as an accountant in Birmingham and taking singing lessons in his spare time at the Midland Institute with Dr Richard Wassell, the organist, and choirmaster at St Martin’s Church in the Bull Ring, Birmingham. He was a tenor soloist in the church and fulfilling engagements as tenor soloist in regional oratorio performances as far apart as Wales and Scotland.
Midland Institute where Webster had lessons with Dr Richard Wassell.
Interior of St Martin’s Church, the Bullring, Birmingham
In 1923 the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company came to Birmingham and he managed to obtain an audition with New Zealander, Harry Norris, the D’Oyly Carte conductor. Harry Norris was impressed with Webster’s voice and on his recommendation, he was summoned to see Rupert D’Oyly Carte in London. He was meant to audit a firm’s books in South Wales. Instead, he decided to throw caution to the wind and went to London for the audition instead. He sang five or six songs to an unreceptive D’Oyly Carte and his general manager, Richard Collett.
‘I became increasingly anxious. It was like singing to two mummies… ”I think he’ll do,” Mr D’Oyly Carte said in a rather pained voice, thinking, no doubt, that here was yet another name one the pay-list. “I should think so, sir,” was the reply. ‘Thus unenthusiastically was I welcomed into the Profession of the Stage.’ (Duet, p. 34)
Although he had been doing well in accountancy, he abandoned his job with little regret to become a professional singer, making his debut with the company as one of the Yeomen in The Yeomen of the Guard at the Theatre Royal, Brighton on 9 September 1923.
In 1924 he married Winifred Keey, the daughter of Edgar Keey, his former headmaster at Aston Commercial School. Winifred borrowed £100 from a relative, with no intention of repaying it, and used the money to follow Leslie to London against her parents’ wishes, or possibly, even without their knowledge. They might have approved of the match had Leslie remained a respectable accountant like his elder brother, Norman, but they were against her taking up with a chorus boy in the D’Oyly Carte. Her family had no more to do with her, partly because of her defiance of their wishes and partly because she had borrowed such a large sum of money under false pretences from a member of the family. Because they disowned her they never knew that she and Leslie had married or that she gave birth to a son, and, thinking the worst of her, imagined that she and Leslie were living together in sin.
Winifred and Leslie’s son, Keith was born the year after their marriage on 12 June 1925, and his birth was registered in Birmingham North.
6 August 1925 – Borough, Stratford. Interest remains unabated in the D’Oyly Carte company, now in the second of their two weeks’ engagement at this theatre. On Tuesday The Yeomen of the Guard was staged, and met with the usual enthusiastic reception from an audience who obviously enjoyed every number. Encores were frequent. The entrance of Mr Henry A Lytton as Jack Point was naturally the signal for an outburst of applause, which was fully justified by his consistently fine work in this well-written role. His apt mingling of humour and pathos is amongst the best things he has ever done. As the other strolling singer Miss Winifred Lawson made a distinct success, singing and acting with real talent. Happily cast also were Mr Leo Sheffield as the grim gaoler and Miss Aileen Davies as Phoebe. Miss Bertha Lewis made a capital Dame Carruthers, whose chief song was rendered artistically; and Miss Irene Hill scored as Kate. Mr Sydney Pointer’s agreeable voice helped him to make Colonel Fairfax a prominent figure, and Mr Darrell Fancourt was a strong Sergeant Meryll. Others who shared in the success were Mr Joseph Griffin as Sir Richard, Mr Herbert Aitken as Leonard, and Mr Leslie W. Booth as the First Yeoman. The stage director is still Mr J.M. Gordon and Mr Harry Norris is the touring musical director. In 1926 Doctor Malcolm Sargent (as he was then) took over as conductor for the London season at the Prince’s Theatre and Leslie considered that period to be one of his happiest and most fulfilling times with the company. It was then when he asked Sargent to listen to his voice and tell him whether he thought he could make it as an opera singer. Sargent told him that if he did not have a private income he should forget about singing in opera as the pay was very poor.
18 November 1926 – D’Oyly Carte Canadian Visit. It has been arranged for the D’Oyly Carte principal company to visit Canada at the end of the season at the Princes on December 19. The company will embark for Canada in the steamship Metagama on the 24th. The tour will open in Montreal on January 4. Mr Richard Collett, the general manager of the company, will be in charge of the tour.
After a stay of two weeks in Montreal, the company will proceed to Toronto and thence to Winnipeg, staying in each of these cities for a fortnight. There will also be visits to Lethbridge, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island. The tour will end at Montreal in the middle of May. The Mikado, The Gondoliers, The Yeomen of the Guard, and HMS Pinafore will form the repertory. The leading principals, with the exception of Miss Elsie Griffin, will take part in the tour. Miss Griffin’s place will be filled by Miss Irene Hill. Misses Bertha Lewis, Winifred Lawson, Aileen Davies, Messrs Henry A Lytton, Darrell Fancourt, Leo Sheffield, and Charles Goulding are included in the company. Webster Booth sang Your Tiny Hand is Frozen at the ship’s concert, so impressing principal soprano Winifred Lawson that she was not at all surprised when he soon rose to fame after he left the company. He was particularly impressed when the chorus sang Hail Poetry in the open air when the company visited Chief Big Crow and Chief Starlight in the Sarcee Reserve, Calgary.
Passenger list on return to Liverpool
He stayed with the company for four and a half years but made no great advancement from singing in the chorus, small parts and understudying the tenor principal roles. In Duet, his joint autobiography, with Anne Ziegler, he complained that the only way he would advance in the company was to wait patiently to fill “dead men’s shoes”. Despite this observation, he was one of the few singers allowed to record individual songs from the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire without prior approval of the D’Oyly Carte family. His recordings of Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes and A Wand’ring Minstrel under the baton of gifted conductor, a fellow native of Birmingham, Leslie Heward, who died tragically young, remain unsurpassed and are now available on CD.
Leslie was away on tour for fifty weeks of the year and Winifred, left alone with her small son, was estranged from her parents although living in the suburb of Moseley in the same city. Leslie had suspicions that all was not well at home when he arrived home from a tour with D’Oyly Carte to find Keith sitting by himself on the doorstep. Winifred had left her small son to his own devices while she went dancing. Several years later, she suddenly deserted Leslie and his son.
Leslie searched for Winifred in every town where he happened to be singing, but despite desperate attempts to trace her, he never found her, and eventually divorced her in 1931, citing Trevor Davey as co-respondent. Leslie was granted custody of Keith, who decided on his sixth birthday that he never wanted to see his mother again.
After the stability of a regular – if small – salary from D’Oyly Carte, he was now a freelance performer with a small son to support and no regular money to his name. In the D’Oyly Carte Company he was known as Leslie W. Booth, but now he adopted his middle name and became known as Webster Booth on stage, although his family and close friends continued to call him Leslie for the rest of his life. One of his boyhood nicknames was Jammy, and he once signed a photograph “Yours sincerely, Kingy”!
26 May 1939 – Gilbert and Sullivan The scheme of the London Music Festival is designed to embrace all the chief musical activities of the metropolis and it was proper that the popular concerts given by Mr Ernest Makower at the London Museum should have their place in it. The concert given on Wednesday evening was an unusual one, though Mr Makower never keeps to any beaten path in his selection of music for performance. It was felt that no English festival would be really complete if Gilbert and Sullivan was not represented in it. So, with the permission of Mr D’Oyly Carte, Dr Sargent arranged a programme of selections from the famous comic operas. In a preliminary talk, Dr Sargent apologised for going against Sullivan’s expressed wish that his operatic music should not be performed in concert form.
But no excuse was necessary to justify the admirable singing of the extracts by Miss Irene Eisinger, Mr Webster Booth, and Mr George Baker. We do not often hear Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes so well sung in a theatre. Miss Eisinger’s songs reminded us that Sullivan’s heroines descended at no great distance from Mozart’s soubrettes, whom we are accustomed to hearing her sing so delightfully. It was good too to hear the music played by the Boyd Neel orchestra, whose contributions included the delightful patchwork overture, Un Ballo and the Iolanthe overture. There was, as usual, a large and enthusiastic audience.
1953 – The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (film). Robert Morley, Ian Wallace, Owen Brannigan, Harold Williams and voices of Webster Booth, Elsie Morrison, John Cameron. Webster was annoyed at the billing he was given in this film. He did not appear in it but his voice was dubbed for Colonel Fairfax in the scene from The Yeomen of the Guard and in the final section singing an echoing version of A Wand’ring Minstrel. The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan
January 1962 When the copyright on Gilbert’s words was lifted at the end of 1961 Webster was asked to present a Gilbert and Sullivan series of programmes on the English Service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
1963 Only a few weeks before The Johannesburg Operatic Society was due to open with The Yeomen of the Guard the committee decided that they needed a stronger Colonel Fairfax than the person originally cast in the role. Webster (aged 61) was asked to take over what is essentially the juvenile lead. He was a great success in the role.
14 June 1963 (from my 5-year diary)
4 to 14 April 1973 – The Mikado, Guild Theatre, East London, The East London Light Operatic Society, Pamela Emslie, Colin Carney, Bernie Lee, Leigh Evans, Irene McCarthy, Jim Hagerty and Jimmy Nicholas, produced by Webster Booth. The musical director was Jean Fowler.
I had moved to East London at the beginning of 1973 and joined the show at the last minute. I had a very happy reunion with Webster after seven years apart.
Today South African soprano, Garda Hall, is hardly remembered in South Africa where she was born, or in the United Kingdom where she lived for most of her life and had a distinguished career as a singer. The only reason why I know anything about Garda Hall at all is that Webster Booth mentioned that he had sung and recorded with her on several occasions. Her descendant, Quentin Hall, who lives in Western Australia, has shared some of his extensive family research with me so I thought I would write a short article about his distinguished ancestor.
Garda Hall was born in Durban, Natal in 1900 in the middle of the South African War. Garda was given the unusual middle name of Colenso, presumably in commemoration of the Battle of Colenso in 1899. Her parents were George Ernest Hall (1869 – 1933), originally from Torquay, Devon, and Maude Kate Amy Breeds (1878 – September 1959). Quentin presumes that George and Maude married in South Africa rather than the UK and the Breeds surname suggests to me that Garda’s mother was a South African of Dutch origin, rather than British.
Garda moved from Durban to Pietermaritzburg when she was seven years of age and attended the private Girls’ Collegiate School there. Her father owned a bicycle shop in Pietermaritzburg called Hall’s –The Cycle Specialists and sold it to the Jowett family when the family settled in England. The cycling business remained Hall’s – The Cyclist Specialists until 1952 when Walter and his brother eventually changed the name of the business to Jowett Brothers.
Garda was not noted for her musical prowess at school. Apparently the music teacher told her that she was singing out of tune and asked her to leave the music class! It should be pointed out that some children who sing out of tune begin to sing in tune as they mature. Despite being good enough to be accepted at the Royal Academy of Music in 1920 and doing well there, several critics remarked on occasional lapses of intonation when she became a professional singer.
In 1920, she boarded the Norman Castle in Durban with her mother, who was 41 at the time.
They arrived in Southampton on 9 August 1920 and Garda began her vocal studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London at the beginning of the new term in September, taking lessons with the renowned singing teacher, Frederick King who trained many notable singers including Norman Allin, Miriam Licette, Carmen Hill and Robert Radford. T. Arnold Fulton, the Scottish organist and choral director of the London Select Choir and the choir at St Columba’s Church in London where he was organist and choir master, acted as studio accompanist to Frederic King at the Royal Academy. Some years later Arnold Fulton moved to South Africa and taught singing based on the methods he had learnt from Frederic King.
Garda obtained the diplomas of ARAM and LRAM. Interestingly, she apparently trained as a mezzo soprano at the Academy, yet sang as a lyric soprano during her subsequent career as a singer. She was awarded the Gilbert Betjemann Gold Medal at the Academy for operatic singing in 1923.
Not long after she graduated, she sang at the first Grand Ballad Concert of the season at the Guildhall, Plymouth on 29 September 1923, and in 1925 she made a triumphant return to Pietermaritzburg and Durban and gave several successful recitals while she was there. The closing item which she sang at the Pietermaritzburg concert was Poor Wand’ring One from The Pirates of Penzance. I wonder what her disapproving music mistress at ;the Collegiate School thought about this! If she had left South Africa as a second-rate, sometimes out of tune mezzo, she had returned to the country of her birth as an engaging lyric soprano. At the time of her trip her parents were living in Winkelspruit on the South Coast of Natal, but by 1930 the whole family moved to 137 King Henry’s Road, South Hampstead, the address where Garda remained until her death in 1968.
Towards the end of that year Garda sang in Burnley in aid of the Police Convalescent fund. Two of her fellow artistes were distinguished singers of the day – Muriel Brunskill (contralto) and Tudor Davies (tenor). At a concert the following year, the critic remarked on her clean-cut articulation (in English and French) and her ability to sing a comfortable high E. However, he disapproved of “an almost continuous vibrato which adversely affected her intonation”. He suggested that she should work on her breathing to correct this fault – shades of that music mistress in Pietermaritzburg!
1926 was an auspicious year for Garda as she began recording for His Master’s Voice (HMV). One of her notable recordings was the Mozart Requiem with the Philharmonic Choir and orchestra, conducted by Charles Kennedy Scott on 6 July at the Queen’s Hall.Other singers on the recording were Nellie Walker, Sydney Coltham and Edward Halland. She was also bridesmaid at the wedding of baritone Roy Henderson and Bertha Smyth in March. The couple had met when studying at the Royal Academy, presumably at the same time as Garda herself.
During the twenties, Garda was making a name for herself as a popular concert singer, recording artiste and broadcaster, although critics were still concerned about her violent vibrato and doubtful intonation as opposed to her vocal good points of agility and wide range. She was singing with the finest singers of the day, as can be seen in this article of 1928:
A BRASS BAND CONCERT – 2LO London, 25 May 1929 15.30 S.B. from Newcastle. Artists from the London Studio: GARDA HALL (Soprano), WATCYN WATCYNS (Baritone). The MARSDEN COLLIERY BAND Conducted by JACK BODDICE.
Famous Northern Resorts – 2ZY Manchester, 18 September 1929 20.00Scarborough – The SPA ORCHESTRA Conducted by ALICK MACLEAN.(Leader, PACK BEARD) Accompanist, S. HANLON DEAN Relayed from the Spa S.B. from Hull.GARDA HALL (Soprano)
On 6 March 1930 Webster Booth was establishing himself on record, radio, as the Duke of Buckingham in the West End production of The Three Musketeers, and as a tenor soloist in oratorio, but he was still entertaining at dinners and benefit concerts, such as one at the Finsbury Town Hall for the Clerkenwell Benevolent Society, where South African soprano, Garda Hall was one of the other entertainers. Charles Forwood, who was to become the permanent accompanist of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth when they went on the variety stage in 1940, accompanied at this concert.
An Orchestral Concert – Regional Programme London, 24 November 1930 20.35 A Cowen Programme – THE B.B.C. ORCHESTRA Conducted by JOSEPH LEWIS. GARDA HALL (Soprano) and Orchestra Aria, Bloom on, bloom on, my Roses(The Rose Maiden) The Swallows, Cradle Song, A Birthday.
A newspaper cutting on 20 March 1930 reads as follows: The Clerkenwell Benevolent Society benefited to a considerable extent as a result of a concert at the Finsbury Town Hall on March 6. There was a generous provision of talent, among those to please a large and enthusiastic audience being Garda Hall, Doris Smerdon, Gladys Limage, Doris Godfrey, Hilda Gladney Woolf, Maidie Hebditch, Webster Booth, Ashmoor Burch, Charles Hayes, Fred Wildon and Lloyd Shakespeare, with Charles Forwood as accompanist. It is interesting that some of these names are still remembered today, while others are completely unknown.
Later in that year, Garda returned to South Africa and her parents came to England on board the Gloucester Castle to make their home with her. For a short time they lived at 142 King Henry’s Drive, Hampstead, but later moved to 137 King Henry’s Drive, where she remained until her death in 1968.
A Concert 5WA Cardiff, 20 March 1931 19.45 Relayed from THE Public HALL, BRITON FERRY. GARDA HALL (Soprano), JOHN MOREL (Baritone) BRITON FERRY I.L.P. MALE VOICE PARTY,Conducted by D. L. MORGAN. NATIONAL ORCHESTRA OF WALES (Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru) (Leader, LOUIS LEVITUS) Conducted by WARWICK BRAITHWAITE
In March 1932 Garda took part in a broadcast of popular opera with another South African singer who had made a career in the UK, the contralto Betsy de la Porte. In the same year, she sang in a concert devoted to Viennese music at the Pump Room in Bath. The conductor was Edward Dunn, and baritone George Baker, Webster’s great friend and mentor, was the other soloist. Several years later, Garda suggested to Edward Dunn that he should apply for the position of musical director of Durban Opera. He was chosen from 200 candidates and remained in South Africa for the rest of his life. The last I heard of him was when he was conducting the Johannesburg Philharmonic Society and giving lectures on musical appreciation in the sixties.
Suitable Songs – Regional Programme London, 6 August 1932 21.15 (Part VII). Arranged and Produced by GORDON MCCONNEL. GARDA HALL, PARRY JONES, FOSTER RICHARDSON. EDGAR LANE (Compere) WALTER RANDALL (Pianist) THE REVUE CHORUS and The B.B.C. THEATRE ORCHESTRA Leader, S. Kneale Kelley. Conducted by JOSEPH LEWIS
Garda Hall (Soprano), Betsy de la Porte (Contralto), Jan Van Der Gucht (Tenor), Stuart Robertson (Baritone), Franklyn Kelsey (Bass), Mary Hamlin (Soprano), Gladys Winmill (Contralto), Doris Owens (Contralto), Rosalind Rowsell (Soprano) , Stanley Riley (Bass), Bradbridge White (Tenor), Victor Utting (Bass). Narrator, Ivan Samson. The Wireless Chorus (Section B) – Chorus-Master, Cyril Dalmaine. B.B.C. Orchestra (Section D) – Led by Marie Wilson. Conducted by Stanford Robinson
On 22 May 1933, Frederic King, Garda’s singing teacher at the academy, died at the age of 80, and on 1 October of the same year, Webster was on the same bill as Garda Hall at the Palladium. Other performers on that bill were Debroy Somers and his band, Leonard Henry (compère), Raie da Costa (the brilliant South African pianist who died at an early age) and Stainless Stephen. Webster had also been booked to sing at the National Sunday League concerts at the Finsbury Park Empire, and the same artistes as those at the Palladium were due to perform at the Lewisham Town Hall later in October.
A Part of THE CREATION – Regional Programme Scotland, 7 February 1934 20.45 (Haydn) THE DUNDEE AMATEUR CHORAL UNION GARDA HALL (soprano), TREFOR JONES (tenor), JOSEPH FARRINGTON (bass) THE SCOTTISH ORCHESTRA Conducted by CHARLES M. COWE. At the Pianoforte, M. MARSHALL BIRD. Relayed from The Caird Hall, Dundee
On 15 March 1934 Garda Hall sang in Torquay with the Municipal Orchestra there and the short newspaper article announcing the date pointed out that her father had been a Torquay man. She sang an aria from Die Fledermaus at the Queen’s Hall on the last night of the Promenade concerts on 6 October 1934, conducted by Sir Henry Wood.
Songs of Sir Frederic Cowen – National Programme Daventry, 2 April 1934 19.30 sung by GARDA HALL (soprano), HAROLD WILLIAMS (baritone) Accompanied by THE COMPOSER. GARDA HALL Songs about roses :Deep in a Beauteous Garden, The Sweetest Rose of all, Day Dreams, The Roses of Sadi, Blue Skies and Roses. HAROLD WILLIAMS Poems by Sir Walter Scott :Anna Marie, The Bonny Owl Border Ballad
She sang an aria from Die Fledermaus at the Queen’s Hall on the last night of the Promenade concerts on 6 October 1934, conducted by Sir Henry Wood. Promenade Concert – National Programme Daventry, 6 October 1934 20.00 Last concert of the season – Relayed from The Queen’s Hall, London (Sole Lessees, Messrs. Chappell and Co., Ltd.).GARDA HALL (soprano), ROBERT EASTON (bass), EILEEN JOYCE (pianoforte), THE B.B.C SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA – Led by MARIE WILSON. Conducted by Sir HENRY WOOD
A Variety of Music – Regional Programme Northern, 1 August 1935 21.00 with JACK LORIMER, RONALD HILL, Clive ERARD, DORIS HARE, ALBERT RICHARDSON, G. KITCHENER, RAY WALLACE, STANLEY BROWN, GARDA HALL, JOHN TURNER, BERT MEREDITH, FREDDIE GARDNER AND HIS RHYTHM FIVE. THE RHYTHM BROTHERS. THE BBC THEATRE ORCHESTRA Conducted by MARK H. LUBBOCK. Compere, BRYAN MICHIE.(From Regional)
Songs From The Shows (No. 38) – Regional Programme London, 15 October 1935 21.00 Contrasting Composers-2 – SIDNEY JONES and COLE PORTER. BETTY BOLTON, GARDA HALL, REGINALD PURDELL, JANET LIND, C. DENIER WARREN, ROBERT GEDDES, THE THREE GINX. THE BBC VARIETY ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS. Conducted by STANFORD ROBINSON. At the pianos, HARRY S. PEPPER and DORIS ARNOLD. Compere, JOHN WATT.
Songs of the Seasons – Regional Programme London, 3 November 1935 17.30 By Frederic H. Cowen. GARDA HALL (soprano), JOYCE NEWTON (soprano), HAROLD WILLIAMS baritone). JOYCE NEWTON – Autumn : To a Flower. GARDA HALL – Winter : Snowflakes. JOYCE NEWTON – Winter : The Snowstorm. HAROLD WILLIAMS – Christmas Time: The Wassailer’s Song. GARDA HALL AND JOYCE NEWTON Spring : Duets To Daffodils, Violets, GARDA HALL – Spring : The Swallows . HAROLD* WILLIAMS – Summer : Anna Marie. JOYCE NEWTON – Summer : Summer’s here. GARDA HALL AND JOYCE NEWTON – Summer : Duet Birds.
On 5 December 1935, Garda Hall, Webster and George Baker sang in a concert version of Gounod’s Faust and the Beggar’s Opera at the Playhouse, Galashiels on the Scottish Borders. The Galashiels Choral Society (concert master: Robert Barrow) and orchestra were conducted by Herbert More.
Pleasure Gardens – National Programme Daventry, 15 May 1936 20.00 A Picture in Words and Music of London’s Old Pleasure Gardens at Vauxhall. Devised by JOHN F. RUSSELL and HOLT MARVELL. Music selected and arranged by ALFRED REYNOLDS. GARDA HALL (soprano), JAN VAN DER GUCHT (tenor), MORGAN DAVIES (baritone) A Section of THE BBC MEN’S CHORUS and THE BBC THEATRE ORCHESTRA Leader, Montague Brearley ,Conducted by MARK H. LUBBOCK
On 5 December 1935, Garda Hall, Webster and George Baker sang in a concert version of Gounod’s Faust and the Beggar’s Opera at the Playhouse, Galashiels on the Scottish Borders. The Galashiels Choral Society (concert master: Robert Barrow) and orchestra were conducted by Herbert More.
In 1936 Webster sang with Garda again on 16 September at a Shrewsbury Carnival Concert. Other performers were Ronald Gourley (entertainer) and theAlfredo Campoli Trio
I have been reading B.C. Hilliam’s autobiography Flotsam’s Follies (Flotsam of Flotsam and Jetsam) and discovered that Garda Hall sang in his song cycle, Autumn’s Orchestra. It was performed at the Queen’s Hall, with Garda Hall, Gladys Ripley, Heddle Nash, and Malcolm McEachern as vocalists and Albert Sandler as violinist.
MARIE BURKE in Comic Opera VII – Regional Programme London, 18 September 1936 21.20 Songs and Scenas from three famous Comic Operas, Arranged and Produced by GORDON McCONNEL. 1 The Emerald Isle – Lyrics by Basil Hood, Music by Arthur Sullivan and Edward German. Veronique – English Lyrics by Lilian Eldee, (with alterations and additions by Percy Greenbank ), Music by Andre Messager 3. The Grand Duchess – English Lyrics by Adrian Ross, Music by Offenbach. DICK FRANCIS, GARDA HALL,JAN VAN DER GUCHT, MICHAEL COLE, BERNARD ANSELL and MARIE BURKE. THE BBC REVUE CHORUS and THE BBC THEATRE ORCHESTRA. Conducted by ALFRED REYNOLDS.
SONGS FROM THE SHOWS No. 45 – Regional Programme London, 1 May 1937 18.00 Film Songs, No. 11. Garda Hall, Brian Lawrance, Evie Hayes, Sam Costa, The Three Ginx. The BBC Variety Orchestra and BBC Chorus – Conducted by Charles Shadwell. At the Pianos: Harry S. Pepper and Doris Arnold. Music arranged by Doris Arnold and orchestrated by Wally Wallond . Compered and produced by John Watt.
PASTORAL – National Programme Daventry, 8 July 1937 22.20 A Programme in Praise of Quiet Things. Music by Alan Paul. Verse and Prose selected by Ann Baker. Presented by William MacLurg. Garda Hall (soprano), Jean Pougnet (violin), David Martin (violin), William Primrose (viola) Anthony Pini (violoncello), Alan Paul (pianoforte)GARDA HALL AND QUINTET: Quiet The Lambs, Blessed Care, All my Treasures.
Pastoral is a programme of verse, prose, and music upon the themes of quiet and the countryside. The music throughout has been written by Alan Paul who will himself be at the piano for the first programme ever given of his own serious music.
Paul was born in Glasgow and was a student at the Glasgow Athenaeum, now called the Scottish Academy of Music, from 1917 to 1921, when he came to London to join the Royal College of Music. In his first year there he had to make some money to
help with his fees and left the college for four months to go on tour with Polly (sequel to The Beggar’s Opera). About a year ago he joined the BBC.
In May 1937 Theatreland at Coronation Time was released featuring Stuart Robertson, Garda Hall, Webster Booth and Sam Costa. The critic in Gramophone remarked, “Mr Booth sings gloriously, Mr Robertson defiantly, Miss Hall charmingly, while Mr Costa contributes a fleeting reminiscence of a more sophisticated and yet oh so simple entertainment.” The 12”78rpm, HMV C2903 cost 4/-. Click on the above link to hear the recording which has been restored by Mike Taylor.
MURDER IN THE EMBASSY – Regional Programme London, 4 August 1937 21.00 A Melodrama by Francis Durbridge with Incidental Music by Augustus Franzel. Ann Codrington, Ruth Beresford. A Gypsy Orchestra, conducted by Augustus Franzel, and The BBC Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Mark H. Lubbock. Production by Archie Campbell. Captain Michael Rostard, of the Westonian army, nephew of General Rostard: Jack Melford. Sir Charles Fanshaw, of the Foreign Office.: Norman Shelley
Benson, Sir Charles’s valet: Ernest Sefton
*Madame Vaskaya, a famous continental soprano: Garda Hall
Countess Elsa Sieler, daughter of Count Sieler: Jane Carr
General Rostard, Prime Minister and virtual dictator of Westonia: Henry Victor
Mr Hiram E Miller, of Detroit: Fred Duprez
Baron Von Klemm, the Westonian Ambassador.: Boris Ranevsky
Paul Vendorest, a servant at the Westonian Embassy.: .Paul Vernon
A Singer: Morgan Davies
Inspector Davis, of Scotland Yard: Edwin Ellis
Count Sieler, Dictator of Falkenstein: Ernest Sefton
Announcer: Barry Ferguson
There is an entry for Garda Hall in Who’s Who in Music (1937): Hall, Garda ARAM, LRAM. Born Durban, educated at Royal Academy of Music. Betjemann Gold Medalist. Singing, Chamber music, oratorio, operatic. Recreation: gardening. Address: 137 King Henry’s Road NW3. Telephone: Primrose 4436
GEORGIAN MELODIES – National Programme Daventry, 6 February 1938 21.05 A Musical Sequence selected and arranged by Gwen Williams and Stanford Robinson. Garda Hall (soprano), Roy Henderson (baritone), An Octet from the BBC Chorus, The BBC Theatre Orchestra. Leader, Tate Gilder, Conductor, Stanford Robinson .
Braza (violinist), John Turner (tenor) Garda Hall (soprano), Will Kings (entertainer). Dundee police concert. Evening Telegraph and Post, Dundee (February 1938)
Reverie (No. 6) – National Programme Daventry, 25 June 1938 22.15 – The BBC Theatre Orchestra, leader, Tate Gilder, Conductor, Stanford Robinson. Garda Hall (soprano), Freda Townson (mezzo-soprano) O would that my love?/The Harvest Field (Mendelssohn) Dôme épais (Lakmé) (Delibes) Already, shades of night/ Alas my chosen swain(The Queen of Spades)
MUSIC BY ERIC COATES – Regional Programme London, 9 June 1939 18.00 BBC Orchestra (Section E) Led by Laurance Turner, Conducted by the composer. GARDA HALL AND ORCHESTRA The Mill o’ Dreams, Back o’ the Moon, Dream o’ Nights, The Man in the Moon, Bluebells.Homeward to you, Your Name, Music of the Night.
C.E.M.A. CONCERT- BBC Home Service Basic, 3 October 1940 13.15 Organised in collaboration with a Miners’ Welfare Institute Somewhere in the Midlands. Garda Hall (soprano), Dale Smith (baritone), Samuel Kutcher (violin), Accompanist, Harry Isaacs .
Garda continued singing during the war, often at CEMA concerts and in oratorio. She sang Messiah at the Albert Hall, Nottingham in December 1940.
27 March 1942
22 January 1943
The final cutting about Garda Hall appeared on 5 January 1945.
I could find nothing more about her, apart from her entry in the Musicians Who’s Who in 1949, which was much the same as the 1937 entry. In 1945 she was 45 years of age so I cannot believe that she retired from singing at such an early age. Perhaps she taught singing after she retired from the concert platform, although there is no proof of this. Her mother died in the late 1950s and she herself died on 7 June 1968. She did not marry. If anyone has further information about Garda Hall, I would be very glad to hear from you.