MISSING RECORDS FROM WEBSTER BOOTH/ANNE ZIEGLER DISCOGRAPHY.

If 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.

Missing Recordings

I read a post in The Golden Age of British Dance Bands by Javier Soria Laso about a data bass on the internet: (http://www.kellydatabase.org/Entry.aspx). 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.

I wonder whether the unreleased recordings are still in circulation or whether they were discarded by HMV. I have a recording of Beauty’s Eyes (Tosti) which is marked as unreleased, also Anne Ziegler’s test recording of the Waltz Song from Merrie England. Possibly they were obtained from the Booths’ private record collection.

If 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.

WEBSTER BOOTH: Test recordings Serenata, Macushla Webster Booth, Reginald Paul, C Studio, Small Queens Hall, London, 20 November 1929.

Here Comes the Bride Selection (Schwartz) Light Opera Company with Alice Moxon, Stuart Robertson, Webster Booth, George Baker/Ray Noble/Studio C, Small Queens Hall, London/Cc18897-4, 25 March 1930.

C1890 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.

Decca K630 HMS Pinafore Vocal Gems/Gilbert and Sullivan, Anne Welch, Victor Conway, Doris Owens, Webster Booth (1931)

I’m alone because I love you (Joe Young)/ When it’s sunset on the Nile (Ray Ellison & Ted RenardKensington Cinema, London, 6 March 1931. WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, W. BRUCE-JAMES organ Not released by HMV.

C2229 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.

C2501 Musical Comedy Marches, No 2 Studio, Abbey Road London,  7 November 1932,
LIGHT OPERA COMPANY 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.

C2511 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.

C2716 Ballad Memories, Light Opera Company, including Peter Dawson, Webster Booth, Walter Glynne, George Baker, Gladys Peel, Essie Ackland. Date unknown.

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.

B8071 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 baritone.

This recording may be heard on Clypit: https://clyp.it/fjwbx5vs Thanks to Robert Godridge.

B8081 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

B8105 The glory of the Motherland (McCall); England (Besly); No 2 Studio, Abbey Road, London ,11 January 1934  PETER DAWSON bass-baritone (orchestra: CLIFFORD GREENWOOD), MALE QUARTET  JOHN TURNER, tenor, WEBSTER BOOTH tenor, GEORGE BAKER baritone, STUART ROBERTSON, bass.

C2814Neapolitan Nights, Selection 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 8 men

C2827 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 (as La Scala Singers) Released1938?  

C2834 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.

Waltz song (German)/Indian love call (Friml) Studio 3, London ,10 March 1936,
 ANNE ZIEGLER (sop)(p) Test recordings.

B8476I’m all alone/May; I’ll wait for you/ May, Webster Booth, Conductor: George Scott-Wood, Studio 2, London, 21 July 1936, released December 1936, deleted July 1939.

September 1936Gramophone. 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. 

CARELESS RAPTURE Selection (Ivor Novello) Side 1.   Why Is There Ever Goodbye?/Music In May,   Side 2.   The Manchuko/Finale – Music In May. 23 October 1936.

Released in December 1936 and deleted in April 1941.

C2878 Memories of Lehár, part 1: You are my heart’s delight, Love’s melody, Smokeland, Gipsy love; part 2: Foreign Legion, Count of Luxembourg, Love’s melody  Studio 2, London, 23 October 1936, LIGHT OPERA COMPANY, soloists ERIKA STORM, WEBSTER BOOTH (ten), BBC Male Voice Quartet (orchestra: WALTER GOEHR)

Gems from Glamorous Night (Novello) Webster Booth, Muriel Barron (number and date unknown)

My star/Little Son (Bassett Silver),  Studio 1 London  10 February 1937 
 WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) (orchestra: CLIFFORD GREENWOOD) Unissued.

I was sent these recordings by Bassett Silver’s son.

You’re mine (Sievier, de Rance) Studio 1, London, 10 February 1937
 WEBSTER BOOTH (ten)(orchestra WALTER GOEHR) Unissued.

Lakmé: O fair vision (Delibes, trans Claude Aveling) London,3 March 1939 
WEBSTER BOOTH (ten), LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (WARWICK BRAITHWAITE) Unissued.

Soft and pure fraught with love (Flotow, trans Claude Aveling) London,  3 March 1939, 
WEBSTER BOOTH (ten), LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA:WARWICK BRAITHWAITE. Unissued.

Ave Maria/Schubert, Webster Booth (tenor) Ernest Lush (piano) 11 August 1939 Unpublished

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.

B9030 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.

I have Webster’s recording of Beauty’s Eyes by Tosti.

Merrie England: Come to Arcadie (German) Studio 3, London, 19 October 1941,

ANNE ZIEGLER (sop), WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) (orchestra: DEBROY SOMERS) Unissued.

July 1945 – War records Webster Booth, Sydney Burchall and Clarence Wright, sang in Songs Our Boys Sang and Marching Times.

These 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.

Oft 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.

B9502All Soul’s Day/ Richard Strauss; Memory Island/ Harrison/ Gerald Moore, 27 February 1946. Released October 1946. Deleted March 1952. OEA10882/3

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”)

Richard Strauss’s 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 happy choice.

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 accompaniment.

Without 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 ROBINSON Unissued.

If my songs were only winged (Reynaldo Hahn) London, 11 July 1950,  WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Orchestra: MARK LUBBOCK Unissued.

Countess Maritza: Komm Zigeuner (Kalman; McConnell)  London,20 December 1950,
WEBSTER BOOTH (ten) Orchestra: MARK LUBBOCK Unissued.

Decca F9921 Sanctuary of the Heart (Ketelby)He Bought My Heart At Calvary (Hamblen) with choir of St Stephen’s Church Dulwich, Fela Sowande (organ) June 1952

Jean Collen Updated: 10 September, 2019

THE ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH STORY – PART ONE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webster became a Mason, and was a proud member of the Savage Club, where he often sang at their legendary Saturday night entertainments. These entertainments were arranged by Joe Batten, the eminent sound recordist and producer at Columbia Records. When Webster had something important to do he always wore his distinctive striped Savage Club tie to bring him luck. While still in his early thirties, Webster was made a Life Governor of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

Webster was also in demand as tenor soloist in oratorio: Handel’s Messiah, Jephtha, Samson, Acis and Galatea, Judas Maccabbeus, and  Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, to mention but a few. Before the Second World War, he had sung Coleridge Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in full Native American costume, and in 1955 on the occasion of Sir Malcolm Sargent’s birthday concert, Sir Malcolm requested particularly that he should be the tenor soloist in the same work.

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

Shortly after he met Anne Ziegler he took the lead in an ill-fated production of Kurt Weill’s A Kingdom for a Cow at the Savoy Theatre. His leading lady was the well-known French singer Jacqueline Francel. In Anne and Webster’s joint autobiography, Duet, he said that the play was probably ahead of its time in its handling of complex social issues, which made it too heavy for audiences of the day, who expected lighter fare in musicals. Apart from the unusual subject matter, rehearsals were stormy and the direction contradictory, so despite Weill’s pleasing music and a strong cast, the play closed after just three weeks. The London Dramatic Critic from The Scotsman gave the piece a good review, and mentioned that “Mr Webster Booth as the hero also deserves praise for his fine singing”.

Webster and Paddy Prior, his second wife.

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

 

Webster was contracted to HMV for over twenty years and recorded more than a thousand solos, duets, trios and quartets. His lighter recordings include selections from Ivor Novello musicals with Helen Hill, Olive Gilbert and Stuart Robertson; Theatreland at Coronation Time with South African soprano Garda Hall, and Sam Costa; excerpts from Snow White with Nora Savage, conducted by George Scott-Wood, the composer of Shy Serenade. He made many anonymous recordings as a member of the HMV Light Opera Company. He was the “with vocal refrain” on a series of records made with Carlos Santana and his Accordion Band on the Brunswick label, and on a record of Chappell Ballads with Jack Hylton’s band. Carlos Santana was one of the many aliases used by Harry Bidgood. His better known alias was Primo Scala, the leader of another accordion band, but he did many other things like conducting film music and arranging music and while he was still at school he had written the music for his school song.

His recordings of the late nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties encompassed oratorio, opera and ballads, as well as duets with Anne. Webster’s more serious recordings were often under the baton of Malcolm Sargent, Lawrance Collingwood, Basil Cameron or rwick Braithwaite with the Hallé, the Liverpool Philharmonic or the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. His recordings with piano accompaniment were nearly always with the eminent accompanist Gerald Moore.

Webster enjoyed telling the story of a particular recording session with Gerald Moore. They had one more song to record before the session ended. The song was Phil, the Fluter’s Ball, and Gerald Moore suggested that they should see how fast he could play it and how fast Webster could sing it with clear diction. This was no problem for the finest accompanist in the world and for a singer who had spent four years performing Gilbert and Sullivan with the D’Oyly Carte Company. His oratorio recordings are particularly fine. The solos in Samson from the moving recitative O loss of sight and the following aria,Total Eclipse, to the fiery Why does the God of Israel sleep?, with its unrelenting Handelian runs, demonstrate how easily he moved from one mood to another, always singing with flawless technique and clear diction.

He made recordings with other distinguished singers of the day in operatic ensembles, such as the quartet from Rigoletto, with Noel Edie, Arnold Matters and Edith Coates, to the trio from Faust with Joan Cross and Norman Walker. He sang duets with soprano Joan Cross and baritone Dennis Noble from La Bohème and the Miserere from Il Trovatore with Joan Cross. He recorded duets with the baritone Dennis Noble from the Victorian and Edwardian Excelsior and Watchman, what of the night? to the brilliant extended scene in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. He recorded the duet in Madame Butterfly with Australian soprano Joan Hammond.

When Joan Hammond first arrived in England from Australia, she had a sweet lyrical soprano voice. She sang her first Messiah in England with Webster as tenor soloist under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham. But by the time they recorded the Madame Butterfly duet, several years later, Joan Hammond had become a dramatic soprano and her voice was very much bigger than it had been when she first arrived in England. Joan had to stand much further away from the microphone than Webster in order for the sound engineer to get the balance for the duet right. Webster also sang excerpts from Carmen with the Sadler’s Wells chorus and orchestra, with Dennis Noble, and with Nancy Evans, Anne’s old friend from Liverpool, as Carmen.

At the beginning of the Second World War, he recorded The Lost Chord at the Kingsway Hall in London, accompanied by the organist Herbert Dawson. As they were reaching the end of the song, the All Clear siren sounded, which meant they had to redo the recording to cut out the sound of the siren. There had been no air raids at that early stage of the war so presumably the sirens were being given a trial run. The blitz was yet to come and would destroy Webster’s beloved Queen’s Hall.

ANNE ZIEGLER (1910 – 2003)


Anne was born Irené Frances Eastwood in Liverpool on 22 June 1910. 
From over two hundred other hopefuls she was chosen for the part of Marguerite for the film, the Faust Fantasy: no doubt her blonde good looks and charming personality counted for nearly as much as her attractive lyric soprano voice. It was in the making of this film, which commenced shooting in December 1934, that she met Webster Booth, playing opposite her as Faust.

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

During those intervening four years, Anne was an overnight success on radio in The Chocolate Soldier, sang in a concert party in 1935 called  Summer Smiles during the summer season at Ryde, an engagement she did not really enjoy much. There she acquired her first devoted fan, a girl aged 15, who kept in close touch with her for the rest of her life. 

 She played principal boy in her first pantomime, Mother Goose, at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool, which starred George Formby. In this pantomime she met Babs Wilson-Hill, the principal dancer in the show, who was to remain her closest friend for most of her life. During the 1936 pantomime season she and Babs appeared in another highly successful pantomime, Cinderella, in Edinburgh, this time with the Scottish comedian Will Fyffe as the star attraction.

Anne and Webster were both extremely popular and prolific broadcasters on the BBC, as well as the various European commercial broadcasting stations geared to the British market, such as Radio Lyons, Radio Luxembourg, Radio Normandy and Radio Eireann. Glancing through copies of The Radio Pictorial, commercial radio’s equivalent of The Radio Times, one sees frequent articles about them. Radio stars in the thirties obviously held the equivalent status of pop stars today.

Despite Anne’s success on stage and radio, recording companies had not shown any interest in putting her voice on record. She made a test recording of the Waltz Song from Merrie England in 1935, a recording which Webster managed to obtain from HMV. Eventually she did make a few solo recordings and sang in a Noel Coward medley with Joyce Grenfell and Graham Payn, but the bulk of her recordings were duets with Webster. My favourite solo recording of Anne’s is Raymond Loughborough’s A Song in the Night, which she sang on a Pathé film short in 1936.

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

For most of her life Anne maintained that marriage to Webster meant more to her than any Hollywood contract, although in later years she sometimes reflected on what her life would have been like had she accepted the contract and become a Hollywood star.

Even before Webster’s divorce was made final they formed a duet partnership on stage, in addition to their solo work. From April 1938 they were singing together for Clarkson Rose. This is an advert from September of 1938, the month before Webster’s divorce was finalised.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7-september-1938-with-twinkle.jpgThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7-september-1938-azwb-pier-music-pavilion..png

Their first duet recording was made in the year after their marriage in 1939 –  If You were the Only Girl in the World, with A Paradise for Two on the flip side. Before this official recording she had sung with him as an anonymous soprano voice in a radio series in 1937 called The Voice of Romance. In this series he too was anonymous, but by this time, most people would have recognised his distinctive voice.

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

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

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

 

Jean Collen  COPYRIGHT 2005

Updated April 2019.
 

 
Join: The Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler Appreciation Group on Facebook.
 

Paddy Prior and Webster
Anne and Webster (1957)

WHY THE BOOTHS MOVED TO SOUTH AFRICA IN 1956.

From the moment Webster and Anne started singing together regularly, they were very popular with the public. Few remembered Webster’s acrimonious divorce from Paddy Prior in 1938 when Anne had been named as the co-respondent. The public was happy to accept the glamorous couple who sang beautiful songs and duets together so melodiously and with such feeling as glamorous sweethearts in song. Unlike ordinary couples whose marriages settled down after a year or two, Anne and Webster’s marriage was seen as one filled with the constant romance and passion of a permanent honeymoon.

Anne and Webster 1938

Anne and Webster before their marriage. (1938)

When they took their act to the Variety circuit in 1940 Webster still managed to carry on singing at more serious concerts and in oratorio, but it was probably at this time that people began to regard him as a “romantic duettist” instead of one of the “elect” and one of the finest British tenors of the century as he had been regarded in the thirties. During this time they made their name on the stage in productions of The Vagabond King, Sweet Yesterday and And So to Bed, and in several films.

Webster as Francois Villon in The Vagabond King (1943)

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The Laughing Lady film in 1946 with music by Hans May was a starring vehicle for them both as singers and actors although it was not generally liked by critics. They did many concerts for the impresario, Harold Fielding and must have known every place in Britain like the back of their hands as they went from place to place to fulfill engagements.

Their concert tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948 was very successful indeed, although some of the Australian critics did not always give them good reviews. I sometimes wonder whether their glamorous stage act, complete with crinolines, sparkling jewellery, and gardenias in the buttonhole of Webster’s immaculate evening dress did not become slightly tedious to them after a while. They had a limited repertoire – possibly a repertoire demanded by their many fans who did not want to hear any new or innovative material. 

In 1952 their recording contract with HMV was cancelled and although they made several recordings for Decca this did not result in a steady stream of recording dates. By the fifties Harold Fielding was enlarging the number of performers he employed for his concerts; post-war audience preferred American performers on the stage of the London Palladium, and as the fifties progressed rock ‘n roll was appealing to younger audiences.

Through no fault of their own, they received a very large tax demand for unpaid American recording royalties which Webster could not afford to pay at that time. He told me that he had been foolish and should have offered to pay the tax off gradually, but because he had flatly refused to pay, there was talk of the Inland Revenue seizing their property. The satirical revue Airs on a Shoestring made a mockery of their act, and of Hiawatha, the work with which Webster was closely associated. Perhaps that was the last straw for them.

30 April 1953 Airs on a shoestring

They had made a successful short tour of the Cape Province of South Africa in November of 1955 and although they were not short of work in the UK they decided to move to that country in July of 1956.

JEAN COLLEN –  13 OCTOBER 2018.

 

MY RECORD COLLECTION

While I was studying with Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler I listened to their various radio programmes and recorded some of them, but for some reason I never thought of collecting their records at that time. When I was playing in the studio for Webster he played some reel-to-reel tapes of his recordings and allowed me to copy those with my own reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was only when I left South Africa and was living in the UK in 1966 that I slowly began my collection of their 78rpm records.Anne and Webster in a full page advert for Skol beer (1961)

I met Margaret when I was working at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in Bedford Square. She had a 78rpm recording of Webster’s singing One Day When We Were Young and Sweethearts and she kindly gave it to me – the very first record in my collection. She and I went to the HMV shop in Oxford Street one lunchtime. The first record I saw there was a 45rpm of Songs That Have Sold a Million. The names of the singers were not mentioned on the cover, but somehow I thought Webster might have been one of the singers. I asked to hear the record on the headphones provided in the store. Sure enough, he was one of the singers in the medley. The other singers were Dorothy Clarke (contralto) and Foster Richardson (baritone). The original recording had been made in 1937. I added this one to my collection – I now had two records instead of one.

I began looking around second hand record shops in the St Albans area where I was living at the time and found more records to add to my collection. When I returned to South Africa on the SA Oranje in 1968 I did not pack all these records in my trunk. I left There is no Death (Johnson/O’Hara) and: Just for Today (Partridge/Seaver) (HMV B9458) behind with my parents. Luckily Mike Taylor in The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook acquired this recording a few months ago and  has restored it and posted it to the group.

Some years after I moved back to Johannesburg I found more 78 rpms through adverts in Gramophone when the Rand was not in such a parlous state against the pound as it is today. These records were sent to me by post and it is a miracle that not too many of them were broken and that I could just afford to pay postage on such heavy items as well as import duty. The import duty often came to as much – if not more – than I had paid for the records in the first place.

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Rococo Canada issued an LP of some of Webster’s recordings from the collection of Scott Sheldon and I heard this record first when I paid a visit to Webster in Knysna in 1973. Webster always said that HMV would only reissue an LP of his serious recordings once he was dead, but later in that decade they did issue such an LP and classified it under “historical”. Webster was pleased that the  record had been issued before he died, but rather indignant at the classification.

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When he and Anne returned to the UK in 1978 two further LPs were issued of their duet recordings and after Webster’s death in 1984 HMV issued The Golden Age of Webster Booth.

ImageBooth in 1985. Image

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Webster had started recording for HMV in 1929, so by the late eighties there were enough recordings out of the fifty year copyright for other smaller recording companies to produce CDs of the duet and solo recordings. By the late nineteen-nineties there were a number of compilation CDs released at a time when it had become possible to restore the quality of the recordings to pristine condition.

In 1986 or 1987 Dudley Holmes kindly sent me cassette tapes of many recordings.

I picked up other 78rpm records in charity shops and at various fêtes and at the Collectors’ Treasury, an interesting shop in Johannesburg. The Collectors’ Treasury has a great collection of 78rpm records but they were not sorted in any particular order so I made a number of excursions into the city in the late eighties to go through the dusty record collection where I usually managed to find a few of Anne and Webster’s recordings on every trip.

I bought my first CD player in 1990 at the same time as Webster’s first CD Moonlight and You was issued. As I mentioned earlier regular compilations of duet and Webster’s solo recordings were issued on CD in the 1990s, the last being Along the Road to Dreams which featured solos and duets.

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This CD of Webster’s earlier recording was issued in 1989.

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Featuring solo and duet recordings. The last CD featuring Anne and Webster was issued about 1999.

I have added many recordings in my collection to YouTube  and seem to have had most success in promoting these records there . I have 215 subscribers on YouTube and my uploaded videos have been viewed over 316,190 times – often by people who had never heard of them before. I have also included some videos on my channel on The Daily Motion site

The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook includes a great collection of recordings, photos and memorabilia. If you are interested in hearing rare recordings by Webster and Anne, beautifully restored by Mike Taylor, as well as some related artistes with whom they worked, please join the group.

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

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A collection of various recordings featuring Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

 

Jean Collen. April 2016.