ANNE ON HER OWN (1996 – 2003)

Anne and her nephew, Mike Eastwood from Portsmouth (circa 1996)
1997 With Bonnie in Joan Tapper’s garden in Mold.
Anne and Maurice Buckley on the way to the RNCM for the awards concert and presentation 1997.
1997.
Anne and Bonnie 1997.

In 1997 Webster’s son Keith died at the age of 72, and in March of 1998 Anne’s dear little Yorkie Bonnie had to be put to sleep, aged 15. Anne was very lonely without her and although she vowed that she could never have another dog because she was too old, eventually she did take on Toby, another Yorkie.

With Jean Buckley on holiday in Harrogate in 1998.
Anne, Allun Davies and Joan Tapper after a lunch in 1998.
Anne and the new Yorkie, Toby in 1999. Sadly, Anne became too frail to care for him and he had to be placed in a new home a year or so later.
Anne and Joan after lunch at the Groes Inn in 1999.
Anne and Joan 2000
Anne and some fans celebrating her birthday (circa 2000)
Anne sends a birthday greeting to me (2001)
Joan and Anne (2002)

Extract from my book Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth:

I phoned Anne on 3 August 2003. By this time her carer was coming in three times a day. Anne could still joke, “Once in the morning to see I am still alive, next at lunchtime, and then at 6pm to see I’m having supper and set for the night.”

We spoke of the days in Johannesburg when I was young – and she much younger – when everything had been happy and carefree. She could not believe that I was nearly sixty as she always thought of me as a young woman. It was forty years since I had first started playing for Webster when she went away on the trip with Leslie Green.

She had not seen Babs for over a year and did not know if she was alive or dead. We decided that it was a pity that things had worked out so badly with Babs, as it could have been a very happy arrangement.

She remarked, “That’s life – or should I say – death?” I told her that she still sounded wonderful, not like an old person at all, with her beautiful speaking voice and her alert mind. I said that I would phone again in a few months. We said, “God bless you,” to one another, and her last words to me were, “Take care, darling.”

Five days after that phone call Anne had another dreadful fall. She was taken to the Llewellyn Ward at Llandudno Hospital, where Dudley Holmes found her in September. She was pleased to see Dudley, but he was deeply shocked at the change in her physical appearance. Dudley spoke to Sally Rayner, who told him that Anne could never return to the bungalow and that they were looking round to find a suitable frail care home for her. Although she would probably never be able to write to us again, we vowed that we would write to her regularly as long as she lived.

On 27 September I wrote a letter to Anne and enclosed a cutting about Kathleen Ferrier on the fiftieth anniversary of her death, and sent it care of Sally Rayner. On the morning of the 13 October there was a message from Sally to tell me that Anne was unlikely to last for more than a day or two.

I phoned Sally immediately and she told me that she was going in to sit with her that morning. Later that day Sally phoned again to let me know that Anne had died peacefully. She had sat with her, and later in the morning had been joined by Anne’s great-nephew, Michael, Jinnie’s son, from Liverpool. They remained with her, holding her hand until she passed away peacefully at 1.30 pm.

Sally had taken my letter in that morning to read out bits of interest to her – about Kathleen Ferrier, the records my actor friend Bill Curry had given me, and Love’s Philosophy, the song she had sung at her Wigmore Hall recital all those years ago. Sally said that some parts of the letter made her smile, although she had not opened her eyes for a long time.

Anne’s funeral took place on 21 October at 2.00 pm. The organist played We’ll Gather Lilacs at the beginning and their recording of Now is the Hour was played at the end of the service as the coffin disappeared behind the curtain. One of Sally’s friends, Stanley, a member of the Rhos on Sea Savoyards, sang their signature tune, Only a Rose, during the service.

About forty people, including Webster’s grandson, Nicholas Webster Booth, and the Meals on Wheels ladies, attended the service on a rainy afternoon. Most of the people present had some firm connection with Anne, although there were a few curious “hangers-on”. Forty people did not seem a large number considering who she was and how many friends she had made over the years.

A week or so later I was surprised to hear from Anne’s solicitors in Rhos on Sea that she had left me a legacy in her Will.

There were obituaries for Anne in papers all over the world, but I was saddened that little notice was paid to her death in South Africa, where she and Webster had lived and worked for twenty-two years. Errol sent an e-mail to the Afrikaans newspaper Die Beeld to inform them of Anne’s death but the paper made no mention of it.

I contacted the actress and broadcaster, Clare Marshall at Radio Today to let her know that Anne had died. She was the only broadcaster in South Africa to pay a fitting tribute to Anne on the radio. Later I sent her copies of a number of their CDs and she continued to play them frequently on her Sunday morning programme, Morning Star. Sadly, Radio Today has changed direction and Clare’s programme is no longer featured on that station.

Ironically, Anne’s friend Babs, who was two years older than her, had died two weeks before Anne, leaving all her money – nearly £1,000,000 – to various charities.

I had known, admired and loved Anne and Webster, and had been deeply influenced by them for forty-three years, and Anne’s death was the end of an era for me. But I am left with a few sad, but many happy memories of them, some of which I have shared in this personal memoir. If they had never been able to sing a note, I would have loved them for their warm, generous and kind hearts, and as long as I live they will never be forgotten.

Jean Collen 6 June 2019

Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth
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ANNE ZIEGLER ON HER OWN (1985 – 1989)

After her bad experience in Bromley, Anne remarked, “Theatre as I knew it doesn’t exist any longer and now that I’ve had the award, I don’t need to work.”

Anne lived on alone in the bungalow in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales for another 19 years until her own death in October of 2003. Obituary notices appeared in the Star and Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg shortly after Webster’s death – I had not included these previously, so will do so now. The Rand Daily Mail’s obituary contained a few errors, like We’ll Gather VIOLETS, and several wrong dates!

25 June 1984 Rand Daily Mail.

Anne was still teaching a few pupils and had been booked to play the Fairy Godmother in Jack and the Beanstalk in Bromley at the end of the year. She decided to have a break in South Africa before she was due to go into the pantomime. It would do her good to get away from Penrhyn Bay, which was full of reminders of Webster’s illness and death. (Extract from my book: Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (2006) (All additional information from the same book.)

Going to South Africa – September 1985.
Visiting Doris Boulton in South Africa.

Jean Buckley, their fan and friend of forty-two years, who had been very kind and supportive during Webster’s last illness, was working to raise money for the Webster Booth Memorial Fund in order to award a scholarship to a tenor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Webster, Jean Buckley and Anne visiting the Buckleys shortly after the Booths had returned to the UK in 1978.
Anne and Bonnie 1985 (Photo by fan and friend: Pamela Davies)
This message from Jean Buckley appeared in The Stage and Opera in September 1985.

Anne went to Bromley in November to play the Fairy Godmother in Jack and the Beanstalk. Contrary to what had been agreed with her agent, she discovered that she was to play a minimal part in the show. She had been promised a solo of her own choice, but when she arrived all that was required of her was thirty-six lines of dialogue and four bars of Only a Rose with “another character”. She was hurt and annoyed. (Extract from my book)

Bromley Pantomime. December 1985.

That was Anne’s last venture on to the stage. Although she was offered a decent part in panto at Plymouth the following year to make up for the poor one in Bromley, and was asked to take the part of an elderly actress who had once been a star of Operetta in Stephen Sondheim’s West End production of Follies, she turned both offers down. ( I believe Adele Leigh took the part Anne had been offered. I wonder if Adele Leigh knew that she had not been the first choice for the role!)

In April 1986 she received an Award from the Queen for services to music. This award took the form of a pension from the Civil List. It was made in both their names and Anne was saddened that Webster had not lived long enough to enjoy the honour and see the monetary benefit of it.

After her bad experience in Bromley, Anne remarked, “Theatre as I knew it doesn’t exist any longer and now that I’ve had the award, I don’t need to work.”

On 9 June 1986 Jean Buckley was able to take a cheque for £3250.00 to the RNCM, and on 10 December Anne presented an interim award of £500 for that year. The Duchess of Kent, the President of the College, presented the Diplomas to graduating students at the same ceremony.

Alan Keith had attended Webster’s memorial service in 1984 and was a great admirer of Anne and Webster.
New Year’s party (circa 1986) with Penrhyn Bay neighbours – Les and Peggy Williams, Anne, ?, Jean and Maurice Buckley at the Buckley home.
Anne with her friend and fan, Joan Tapper (from Mold) and Jean and Maurice Buckley.

Anne with tenor, Allun Davies (1987) after one of his concerts.
Jean, Anne and Babs with their pets outside Jean’s house in Rhos on Sea. (late 1980s)
14 October 1987 It’s a Funny Business.
January 1989 – Peter Firmani doing a tour of Memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.
Anne, Jean and Joan Tapper at Joan Tapper’s home to celebrate Anne’s birthday (circa 1989).

Jean Collen 28 May 2019.

BOOTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA (1958 – 1959)

October 1958 –
Wedding Anniversary – Merrie motoring. Our charming stage
celebrities, Anne Ziegler and her husband, Webster Booth, will spend the night of their 20th wedding anniversary, which takes place early next month, rehearsing until 1 am for Merrie
England for the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society. It opens in the Reps Theatre with a gala performance in aid of Santa on November 12.
When the Booths
came to see me recently about this they were worried about their car parking situation. “Double parked – oh, dear – we must be
quick,” they said.
Cars loom large in
the lives of the couple. Anne’s husband said, “I once followed
her in my car from Maritzburg to Durban. I won’t tell you the speed
at which she was travelling.”
Mr Booth may have
endorsed the remark, but the driving licence remains unendorsed!

21 January 1958 – At Home with Anne. Anne presented this series on Springbok Radio. The programme was still running in July 1959.

A poor newspaper cutting photocopied by microfiche. 1 February 1958.

1 February 1958 – Jennifer Vyvyan recital

A photograph of the Booths appeared in the Rand Daily Mail. They had attended the recital given by English soprano Jennifer Vyvyan in the Selborne Hall. Webster had appeared with Jennifer Vyvyan in performances of Hiawatha and Messiah in 1955 before he left the UK.

7 March 1958 with Harry Stanton.

7 March 1958. Outdoor theatre at Joubert Park.

14 March 1958. Little Theatre, Springs.

17 May 1958 Elijah at the City Hall.
20 May 1958.

31 May 1958 – Springs Operatic Society – May Time

31 May 1958 – Springs Operatic Society – May Time
31 May 1958
16 June 1958
16 June 1958

Merrie England 16 June 1958 with Mabel Fenney, Jimmy Nicholas and Pam Emslie
Anne and Webster in Merrie England, East London 1958.
Anne and Webster in Cape Town.
1 August 1958 Vagabond King, Durban.
22 July 1958.
July 1958

October 1958 – Wedding Anniversary – Merrie motoring.

Our charming stage celebrities, Anne Ziegler and her husband, Webster Booth, will spend the night of their 20th wedding anniversary, which takes place early next month, rehearsing until 1 am for Merrie England for the Johannesburg Operatic and Dramatic Society. It opens in the Reps Theatre with a gala performance in aid of Santa on November 12.

When the Booths came to see me recently about this they were worried about their car parking situation. “Double parked – oh, dear – we must be quick,” they said.

Cars loom large in the lives of the couple. Anne’s husband said, “I once followed her in my car from Maritzburg to Durban. I won’t tell you the speed at which she was travelling.”

Mr Booth may have endorsed the remark, but the driving licence remains unendorsed!

November 1958 JODS

l January 1959

8 January, 12 March 1959 Variety under the stars.
17 February 1959.
February 1959.
7 March 1959 – A bed for Zandile.
12 March 1959 Merrie England – Dora Sowden.
11 April 1959 SABC Pavilion Rand Easter Show.
May 1959.
Waltz Time, East London 18 May 1959.
Anne and Lemon. Anne opens flower show at the City Hall. 1959.

At the old Carlton Hotel – the Press Club party for the All Blacks.
At home in Craighall Park.

With Lemon and Spinach.

With Lemon.

Advertising Lourenco Marques Radio.

Anne and Webster launch their Afrikaans LP – Net Maar ‘n Roos.

The Glass Slipper December 1959.

Anne plays the Fairy Godmother.

Jean Collen 30 April 2019.

BOOTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA (1956 – 1957)

My most enduring memory of the occasion was the tea break when Anne, her hair recently cut in a rather startling Italian Boy hairstyle, drank tea and chatted animatedly with the star-struck tea ladies a few feet away from where we were seated. Little did I know then what a great influence they would exert on the rest of my life. JEAN COLLEN.

Signing autographs in South Africa – 1956.
16 August 1956 Anne and Webster appeared in Spring Quartet in Cape Town shortly after they arrived in South Africa.

17 September 1956 Hofmeyr Theatre, Cape Town. Cockpit Players present Spring Quartet with Anne and Webster, Joyce Bradley, Cynthia Coller, Jane Fenn, Gavin Houghton, Sydney Welch, directed by Leonard Schach.

17 October 1956 – Beethoven Ninth Symphony. City Hall, Johannesburg. Webster, Betsy de la Porte, Mimi Coertse, Frederick Dalberg, SABC Orchestra, Festival Choir, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.


A very poor newspaper cutting (taken by microfiche) showing Webster, Betsy de la Porte, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Mimi Coertse and Frederick Dalberg,
12 November 1956 – Night in Venice for JODS
14 November 1956 – Night in Venice for JODs.

NIGHT IN VENICE

15 November 1956 – Star “crit” by Oliver Walker.

Booths in convertible Hillman Minx outside their flat at Waverley, Highlands North.
December 1956

16 April 1957. Webster has cartoon drawn at Rand Easter Show by Roy Sumner.

21 April 1957 – Easter Sunday morning, The Crucifixion. St George’s Presbyterian Church, Noord Street, Webster, Wilfred Hutchings, Choir augmented with Johannesburg Operatic Society chorus, conducted by Drummond Bell.

Polliack’s Corner – eighth floor balcony Booth studio Singing and Stagecraft. (Photo: Gail Wilson)
Anne’s new hairstyle – July 1957.

July 1957 – Keith Jewell and The Dream of Gerontius

At Cape Town – and this is almost unbelievable (but it is true) – young organist, Keith Jewell (only 27) put on the St Matthew Passion in the City Hall. But more than that he has another three oratorios scheduled before the end of the year, one of which is Elgar’s gigantic work The Dream of Gerontius, which has never before been performed in South Africa. Webster Booth, who has sung in a number of Dreams under Malcolm Sargent at the Albert Hall will be taking a leading role.

I know for a fact – he told me a day or two ago – that Edgar Cree is itching to put it on here. While we have the orchestra, the choirs and singers like Booth right on our doorstep, my reaction is an exasperated: WHY NOT?

1 August 1957 – Anne in her first straight play in South Africa as Dearest in Angels in Love.
September 1957. The Reps did not take up the option on this play.
Advert for Adrenaline!

20 November 1957 – Scots Eisteddfod.

Anne Hamblin was awarded 95% in the Scots Eisteddfod. Webster Booth was the adjudicator.

23 November 1957 – Messiah, St George’s Presbyterian Church and St James’ Presbyterian Church, Malvern. Anne, Webster, Joy Hillier and Wilfred Hutchings, conducted by Drummond Bell.

My parents and I (aged 13) attended the performance at St James’ Presbyterian Church, Mars Street, Malvern. It was the first time I had seen Anne and Webster, although I had already heard many of their recordings on the radio.

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

  The boarding house proprietors were fellow Scots, Mr and Mrs Jimmy Murdoch. They were friendly with a couple called Mr and Mrs McDonald-Rouse. Mrs McDonald-Rouse ran a flourishing amateur concert party and was the accompanist to all the singers in the group. Her daughter Heather, a theatrical costumier, had recently married and sometimes dined with her parents and her new husband at the Valmeidere. In due course we were introduced to the McDonald-Rouses, Heather and her husband.

Through her work, Heather had met Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth shortly after their arrival in South Africa the year before and had become very friendly with them. Through the grapevine, we heard that Webster had sung the aria from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, St Paul at Heather’s wedding, entitled Be Thou Faithful unto Death. Later I learnt that this aria was one of his favourite choices when requested to sing a solo at a wedding. Another of his wedding favourites was the ballad, My Prayer.

John Corrigan, my father’s colleague, was an elder at St James’ Presbyterian Church, then situated in Mars Street, Malvern. He invited us to a performance of Messiah to be held in the Church Hall, conducted by Drummond Bell, organist and choirmaster at the Central Presbyterian Church, St George’s. Coincidentally, the tenor and soprano soloists were to be Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. This was the first time I ever attended a performance of Messiah, and the first time I ever saw Anne and Webster. I did not know then that Webster had been one of the foremost oratorio tenors in Britain, but I had heard a number of their duet recordings, which were often played on the radio. It now seems rather incongruous that they should be singing Messiah in a suburban Church Hall when only two years before Webster’s oratorio stamping ground had been the Royal Albert Hall, with the Royal Choral Society, with Sir Malcolm Sargent as conductor and other foremost oratorio soloists.

Since their arrival in South Africa, Anne and Webster had received a great deal of publicity on the radio and in the newspapers. As I have mentioned, their records were featured on South African radio a number of times each day. South Africans could not quite believe that such an illustrious theatrical couple had willingly chosen to exchange their successful careers and lives in the UK as the best-known duettists in Britain – possibly the world – to become immigrants in the colonial backwater of Johannesburg. My parents remembered them fondly from their frequent broadcasts in the UK, and seeing them in Variety and in the musical play, Sweet Yesterday at Glasgow theatres.

We sat fairly near the front of the hall on the right-hand side. I wish I could say that I remember every moment of that performance nearly sixty years ago. But sadly. I only remember snatches of it. Webster looked rather stern during the whole proceeding and I am sorry to admit that I was not immediately struck with the exquisite beauty of his voice. I did not know every aria from the Messiah then as I do now. In fact, the only piece I had heard before was the Halleluiah Chorus.

My most enduring memory of the occasion was the tea break when Anne, her hair recently cut in a rather startling Italian Boy hairstyle, drank tea and chatted animatedly with the star-struck tea ladies a few feet away from where we were seated. Little did I know then what a great influence they would exert on the rest of my life. JEAN COLLEN.

25 November 1957 – Messiah, Johannesburg Town Hall, Webster Booth(tenor)

December 1957 – The Dream of Gerontius, City Hall, Cape Town. Webster, conducted by Keith Jewell, aged 27. This was the first performance of Gerontius in South Africa.

AUSTRALIAN TOUR – 1948

While most Australian critics agreed that their concerts were well-received and every auditorium was filled to capacity with delighted audiences, they felt that the lighter show music was more suitable to their light voices than the operatic excerpts and solos.

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were received in Australia with just as much enthusiasm as in New Zealand. Clarence Black, the Australian pianist from Adelaide remained their accompanist for the tour in Australia. They were guests of honour at countless civic and mayoral receptions throughout the country and Tasmania.  Most of the photos here are taken from contemporary newspapers so are of a poor quality.

While most Australian critics agreed that their concerts were well-received and every auditorium was filled to capacity with delighted audiences, they felt that the lighter show music was more suitable to their light voices than the operatic excerpts and solos.

On 4th August Anne showed some of her wardrobe to the press:

CONCERT OF SHY KISSES, RAPT GAZES – Sydney critic
Love was comprehensively examined in the second programme given by the English singers, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, at the Town Hall on Saturday night. It was a programme of pretty bon-bons, the musical equivalents of pink ribbons and silver paper and St Valentine cards.

     The audience was delighted. One difference between this sort of concert and a concert of serious music is that the audience listening to serious music is always deep in frowns and scowls and anguish of soul. The audience for these singers is all smiles – dreamy smiles, sentimental smiles, bitter-sweet smiles, nostalgic smiles. The singers make love sound as if it is made up entirely of honey and roses.

Mr Booth and Miss Ziegler, in their duets, gazed raptly upon each other, held hands, dated about in conventional operetta poses, and with all sang so sweetly that it seemed inevitable that a pink little Cupid should leap up from the piano and fire silver arrows at them.

ROSE FOR USHER

Miss Ziegler, who looked as pretty as a portrait, even went so far as to present an usher with a red, red rose and to bless his prosaic life with a shy, shy kiss when he brought her the first beautiful bouquet of flowers. Yet he slunk away from this enviable moment of rapture, as though unaware of a moment in paradise.

     The voices are not outstanding, but they are better than most that have been heard in Australian musical comedy and operetta for some years. The singers know how to control the sweet natural tone in a way that will extract the last drop of sentimental unction from it.

Notable illustrations of this were their duets – Stay Frederick, Stay from The Pirate of Penzance, the waggishly comic presentation of The Keys of Heaven and the medley of ballads which included Until, Love’s Old Sweet Song and I Hear You Calling Me.

Clarence Black, their accompanist, played several well-worn solos in the certain knowledge that his choice of items would make his audience sigh with pleasure.”

13 August 1948 – Newcastle

On the 16th August in Newcastle Anne lost her watch valued at £350. They reported the matter to the police but there was a happy outcome to this loss:

Concert in Newcastle City Hall.
Sydney Concert – 16 August 1948.
Reception in Gloucester Room of Australia Hotel, Sydney.

Unfortunately, Anne also lost a valuable diamond ring worth £900 in their suite at Hotel Australia, Sydney. The police were called in and someone sifted through all the bags of the vacuum cleaners, but this ring was never found.  There were several newspaper photographs of Anne and Webster looking (in vain) for this ring.

19th August 1948. Anne and Webster are pictured scouring the floor of their hotel suite trying to find the lost ring. Some of the more unkind reporters suggested that the “lost ring” was a publicity stunt!

20 August 1948. A less favourable Sydney criticism.
7 September 1948 – Brisbane concert and His Majesty’s Theatre.

Anne and Webster go through their music for one of their Australian performances.

Brisbane Hotel flat.
Brisbane 29 August 1948.

2 September 1948 Woolongong
Adelaide concert 16 September 1948
16 September – Hobart concert.

Webster and Anne meet the mayor of Adelaide’s daughter, Barbara McLeay at a civic reception in their honour.

5 October 1948 – Perth.
10 October 1948 Perth

Before they left Australia after their extensive tour of the country, Webster had the last word about the critics in the following cutting:

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Anne and Webster arrived back in the UK on board the Strathaird after seven months away, on their tenth wedding anniversary, 5 November, just in time to do a broadcast on In Town Tonight.

Their film The Laughing Lady opened in Australia shortly after they left the country. Unfortunately, Australian critics were almost universal in their scathing comments about this film. It occurred to me that after being acclaimed and treated like Royalty on their extended tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948, only ten years later they were living in South Africa in very much reduced circumstances.

Jean Collen©

May 2011. Updated 4 April 2019.

Bibliography: 

Booth, W, Ziegler, A, Duet, Stanley Paul, 1951

Davies, P, List of New Zealand cuttings (1948)

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA

New Zealand Newspaper Archive














NEW ZEALAND TOUR – 1948

Pamela Davies who collaborated with me in writing Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth? at the same time as my own book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (published at the same time by LULU ) was given a scrapbook of Australian and New Zealand press cuttings related to Anne and Webster’s tour there in 1948.

List compiled by Mrs Pamela Davies, Church House, Great Comberton, Pershore, WR10 3DS Worcestershire, England.

Pamela Davies who collaborated with me in writing Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth? at the same time as my own book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (published at the same time by LULU ) was given a scrapbook of Australian and New Zealand press cuttings related to Anne and Webster’s tour there  in 1948 from the late Jean Buckley.

Jean Collen 1991
Jean Buckley with Trixie
Pamela Davies

New Zealand list compiled by Mrs Pamela Davies, Pershore,England.

On the trip to Australia aboard the maiden voyage of the Imperial Star the ship called at various South African ports, so Anne and Webster managed to do two broadcasts each in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. They picked up the ship again in Durban to sail on to Melbourne to meet their Australian accompanist from Adelaide, Clarence Black. Unfortunately their regular accompanist, Charles Forwood, was not in the best of health at this time, so chose not to travel with them on the tour.
   Clarence Black studied piano and organ at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Adelaide. When he graduated he became the organist at the Regent Theatre and gave organ recitals each Sunday afternoon. In 1951 he accompanied Peter Dawson (aged 69, but undiminished in voice and personality by advancing age) on his concert tour of Australia.

Broadcasting at the SABC in Johannesburg.

Broadcasting in Johannesburg.

WORLD FAME:  Attractive looking pair Ann Ziegler and her husband Webster Booth are known by their voices in every home possessing a radio. New Zealanders will shortly have the opportunity of seeing them in the flesh, for they are already headed for a tour of the Dominion. They are about to set sail from Liverpool with South Africa as their first port of call.


Arrival in New Zealand 1948  

Dominion (Wellington)/19/5/48 TWO ENGLISH SINGERS DUE NEXT MONTH

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler shortly due in New Zealand will make their first appearance at the Town Hall on June 1 and 2. These two stars who have achieved popularity through their contributions to light opera, musical comedy, screen and radio entertainment are assured of a warm welcome in this country as apart from their value as entertainers there is always a certain curiosity as to their personalities.     

Booth after leaving school was a clerk in a firm of Birmingham accountants.  Before this he had sung in the choir of Lincoln Cathedral.  His pleasing alto voice changed to tenor and after seeing the possibilities at the professional stage he applied for an audition, was given one and passed through the ranks as a tenor inEngland and Canada.

*Miss Ziegler has been known to the public since early childhood.  She actually gave a recital in London while still in her teens*.

*This section is completely inaccurate. She was not known to the public in her childhood and gave a singing recital at the Wigmore Hall, London when she was twenty-three years of age.

At one stage she was one of the best known of principal “boys” in pantomime in the provinces and crossed the Atlantic to play a leading part in the musical comedy Virginia.

Webster went on to oratorio under Dr Malcolm Sargent with the Huddersfield Choir and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. His career has been almost meteoric.

Otago Daily Times,26 May 1948 Otago Times.

SINGING DUO -TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND –ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH

Two of the most popular British singers, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, are to make a tour of New Zealand in the near future. Established favourites with a world audience through the medium of their broadcasts and recordings, they are also well known on the British stage and have made appearances in several films, the most recent of which The Laughing Lady has still to be released in this country. Although ranked high as singers of more serious musical forms both artists are equally well known in the realm of musical comedy.

Their partnership commenced with the film version of Faustand their recent stage successes have included a revival of The Vagabond King and a new musical Sweet Yesterday. Oratorio, opera and the concert platform have all been covered by this versatile duo.

Auckland Herald/29/5/48 Arrival from Sydney

Arrival in New Zealand.

New Zealand Concert Tour 1948.
Auckland Town Hall.

Wellington Town Hall

Wellington Town Hall.
Concert at Wellington town hall.

The Dominion (Wellington) 2 June 1948. Last Night’s Audience Were Enthralled. Finally, Tonight TOWN HALL 8PM – THIS IS YOUR LAST OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR WEBSTER BOOTH (Tenor) And ANNE ZIEGLER (Soprano) England’s King and Queen OF SONG With CLARENCE BLACK At the Piano. Ballads and Operatic Arias blended with Gems from Musical Comedy by Artists who “sing and act superbly” and who bring to the Concert Platform the romance and glamour of the Stage and Screen.

RESERVES STILL AVAILABLE At Begg’s Today, 8/- and 6/- plus Tax, Also DAY SALES AT 8/- plus Tax, And at the Town Hall tonight From 7pm Direction: Begg’s Celebrity Artists Co.

2 June 1948 Evening Post ENGLISH SINGERS DOMINION OPENING CONCERT.

A reception as enthusiastic as any seen recently in the Town Hall was accorded the English singers Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, and the Australian pianist Clarence Black when they opened a tour of the Dominion last night.  A large audience was present.

3 June 1948 Re cocktail party the previous day, given at 33 Club in their honour attended by WB alone; AZ “indisposed”. Anne Ziegler Taken Ill : Last Night’s Concert Postponed.

Because of the sudden illness of Anne Ziegler, the Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler concert did not take place last night. Practically every seat in the Town Hall was filled when Mr C A Rendle representing the promoters announced the postponement.

Miss Ziegler became ill between 5 and 6 pm. At first it was hoped that the sickness would prove to be a passing one and even the doctor in attendance thought that such might be the case, but after 7pm it was seen that Miss Ziegler was still suffering, and in no condition to make a public appearance. In these circumstances, there was no option but to cancel the concert.

Those present were informed that it was hoped the concert would be held on Saturday night next, and all tickets and reserves would be good for that date.  The audience took the announcement in good part. This arrangement has been made possible by the cancellation of the Nelson concert.

7 June 1948 Evening Post – second Wellington
concert on Saturday night in the Town Hall. Evening Post

CAPTIVATING PAIR – Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

Of all the celebrity artists to visit New Zealand over the past few years possibly none have had the captivating stage manner so typical of the English singers Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.  At their second Wellington concert presented in the Town Hall on Saturday night, this popular couple shared all their songs with the audience rather than sung to them. Their unselfconscious miming and acting throughout both solos and duets won for them a staunch following among even the more staid concertgoers accustomed to the dignified impersonality of other artists.

They opened the programme with the duet Stay, Frederick Stay from The Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan) in which their voices blended perfectly.  There was not one false note among their choice of numbers, every item being of the type for which they are best
known. Solos and duets were both received enthusiastically by the audience, but it was in the duets that they were accorded the greatest storm of applause.

One of the most popular duets was Deep in My Heart (from The Student Prince) and We’ll Gather Lilacs (from Novello’s Perchance to Dream) as an encore was another success. Their duo programme included The Love Duet (Madame Butterfly), Coward’s I’ll See You AgainLife Begins Anew (Sweet Yesterday) and Laugh at Life from their latest film The Laughing Lady. A medley of ballads which warmed the hearts of older members of the audience comprised Until (Sanderson), Love’s Old Sweet Song (Molloy) I Hear You Calling Me (Marshall) and Two Little Words (Brahe).

Miss Ziegler’s first solo was her own arrangement Strauss’s Tales from the Vienna Woods which was superbly sung and she also sang One Fine Day from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Webster Booth sang The English Rose (German) his recording of which is considered one of his best, The Lord’s Prayer and Break of Day from the film Waltz Time.

As a climax to their programme and by popular request the two artists presented their own arrangement of the traditional Keys of Heaven. They burlesqued it delightfully and the audience loved it. 

As accompanist Clarence Black was sympathetic and never intrusive and his solo items proved so popular that he was recalled to play several encores. 

8 June 1948 Nelson Evening Mail. At the School of Music last night.

11 June 1948 Taranaki Daily News, Opera House, New Plymouth last night.

14 June 1948 Manawatu Evening Standard, Palmerston North Opera House on Saturday night. Their second and final concert in Palmerston North to be on Tuesday evening.

15 June 1948 Wanganui Herald Wanganui Opera House last night.

18 June 1948 Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune, Hastings. Municipal Theatre, Hastings last night. To appear in Napier tomorrow night.

21 June 1948 Daily Telegraph, Napier. Napier Municipal Theatre on Saturday night.

21 June 1948. Gisborne Herald. Talk given today by Webster Booth to members of Gisborne Rotary Club, where he complained about the lack of back-stage heating in New Zealand’s theatres.

22 June 1948 Gisborne Herald. Gisborne Opera house last night.

24 June 1948 Rotorua Post. Municipal Theatre, Rotorua last night. Interview given by Webster Booth today. The eleventh concert of their tour, the first concert with back-stage heating at Municipal Theatre, Rotorua.

25 June 1948. Wailatu Times, Hamilton. Theatre Royal, Hamilton last night.

29 June 1948. Northern Advocate. Whangarei Town Hall last night.

30 June 1948 Auckland Star. Town Hall, the first of two Auckland concerts.

6 July 1948 Timaru Herald. Theatre Royal, Timaru last night.

6 July 1948 Re great demand for tickets for recital on Wednesday, July 14th at Civic Theatre: followed by one at St James Theatre, Gore on Thursday July 15.

7 July 1948 Otago Daily Times Arrived Dunedin yesterday,
an interview on their arrival, and photo of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in their hotel lounge.

7 July 1948 Evening Star, Dunedin. Another interview this morning apparently when Webster and Anne were at the Town Hall, inspecting the stage.


8 July 1948 Town Hall, Dunedin Otago Daily Times Otago Daily Times

COMMUNITY SING

A special attraction at the Sing to be held tomorrow in the Strand Theatre in aid of the Food for Britain campaign will be Mr Clarence Black, pianist and accompanist for Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.  Donations may be sent to Mr J F Himburg, Charles Begg, who with Mr A J Pettitt will assist Mr M P Desmoulins to lead the singing.

Town Hall last night (Dunedin) Otago Daily Times

8 July 1948 CHARMING VOICES ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH – EXCELLENT COLLABORATION

On the concert stage Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth are a law unto themselves.
Their programme at the Town Hall last night could hardly be described as a vocal recital for their stage technique was a combination of musical comedy and film art. That it had charm and musical qualities was undeniable, for the large audience was attentive and enthusiastic throughout. Anne Ziegler has a pleasant soprano voice which she used without effort, or forcing and she moves about the stage with an easy grace and charm born of habit.

Webster Booth has a fine tenor voice with excellent quality and carrying power in his high register and in his singing of The Flower Song from Carmen and The English Rose from Merrie England:

FLOWER SONG (CARMEN) he gave a glimpse of what he might do with such a voice had he chosen a more serious musical career.

Anne Ziegler’s most serious contribution was They Call Me Mimi from La Bohème. It was, however in the duets that the audience found their greatest pleasure. The collaboration was excellent and though I found their gestures and movements on the stage somewhat meaningless there was a sophisticated charm about their deportment that disarmed criticism. They chatted informally, made jokes with
a local flavor and took the audience into their confidence. The response was all that could be expected and the artists frequently expressed their gratitude for the reception they received.

The pianist, Mr Clarence Black, was a sympathetic accompanist even to lending a hand with dramatic gestures in the duet The Keys of Heaven: 

KEYS OF HEAVEN https://clyp.it/ygd3sncd

He also played two groups of solos with competence and musical feeling.

9 July 1948 Otago Daily Times Town Hall (Dunedin) last night

9 July 1948 Otago Daily Times FINAL PERFORMANCE- OVERSEAS SINGERS – AUDIENCE CAPTIVATED

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth captivated the large audience in their appearance at the Town Hall last night.  Once again their duets revealed their greatest audience appeal and their musical comedy numbers, in particular, were received with a spontaneous and enthusiastic applause which compelled them to return to the stage again and again.

The Love Duet from Puccini’s Butterfly was their most delightful number in the first half of the programme, the pure tenor and pleasing soprano voices blending perfectly.
In One Fine Day after the interval Anne Ziegler again thrilled the listeners. To finish their programme the artist sang a medley of popular ballads. This started a clamour for encores which engaged the singers for some 15 minutes longer than the scheduled programme and the audience persisted in its attempts to recall them even after they had prepared to leave.

The pianist, Clarence Black, again proved a sympathetic accompanist and a talented solo performer.

.The concerts continued at various places until the end of July. After that Webster and Anne continued their tour to Australia.

New Zealand song recorded by Anne and Webster  in 1948: BLUE SMOKE (RURU KARAITIANA)

Jean Collen 4 April 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.
 

 
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Paddy Prior and Webster
Anne and Webster (1957)