DIARIES CONTINUED – October 1963

4 October – Webster phones and Lucille comes to the studio and we arrange to meet tomorrow at the Rand Show Grounds for the Theatrical Garden Party. I meet Webster outside Thrupps. When I come back, I give him the bob and he is delighted and bends over me and kisses me sweetly and thrillingly. Anne is pleased with the result. Webster goes through songs with me and I have a long chat with him – heaven!

1 October.- Go to studio. Irish woman, Eileen Lawless phones about the theatrical garden party. Talks of “Anne and Leslie”. Ruth phones at night to invite us to Intimate theatre to see Playboy of the Western World. It is excellent. The young actor, James White is brilliant. We have coffee in Hillbrow afterwards and then take her home.

2 October – Go into studio. The pianist, Ivor Dennis comes to visit them. I lunch with Mum and buy some new clothes.

3 October – Go into studio and Webster arrives after making record with boy soprano, Robin Lister and feeling exhausted. Anne and I have an interesting chat. We visit Mrs Hooper and her son Alan. She is the sister of Ralph Trewhela. I sing for them and they seem to like it.

4 October – Go to studio and Mummy phones with results for ATCL – 77% which is very good.

Webster phones and Lucille comes to the studio and we arrange to meet tomorrow at the Rand Show Grounds for the Theatrical Garden Party. I meet Webster outside Thrupps. When I come back, I give him the bob and he is delighted and bends over me and kisses me sweetly and thrillingly. Anne is pleased with the result. Webster goes through songs with me and I have a long chat with him – heaven!

5 October. – Theatrical Garden party. I meet Lucille and Ruth outside the Rand Show Grounds. We have a cold drink in the refreshment pavilion because Anne and Webster are late and we are not too sure how to aid proceedings. The New Zealand bass, Inia te Wiata who is in the country to sing in Show Boat for the Johannesburg Operatic Society, is there, saying that he is very keen to see his old friend, Webster Booth. When Webster and Anne eventually arrive, we can hear them fighting with each other before we even see them. When they see us, Webster stops fighting and is pleased to see us, telling us that we look gorgeous. He puts his arm around me, saying that we have plenty of time to have a look around at everything. In contrast, Anne is still in a terrible mood, doesn’t even speak to us and marches off by herself. Webster has to run to catch up with her and we are left to our own devices.

We eventually see them having strawberries and cream with the VIPs. He signals to us to come over to their table but Ruth tells us to ignore them after Anne’s unpleasant behaviour towards us. Ruth brings me home and we have tea and decide that we will tell them that we met some boys we knew and had a hilarious time dancing in the rock ‘n roll tent! We could have had a lovely time with them were it not for Anne’s bad mood. I wonder why she was so cross with him.

6 October- Drive like a hell hound along the airport road and have rather a reactionary day recovering from Anne’s snub yesterday.

7 October – Go to studio and work for a bit. Ralph Trewhela phones. He has a friend who would like to meet Webster. I meet Ruth and her mother and the latter drives us home where Ruth and I have lunch. We enjoy ourselves running the Booths down after the disappointment on Saturday, and singing corny duets together which we record. She invites me to her house tomorrow to swim. We give her a run home.

8 October – Go to Ruth’s to swim and have fun apart from developing beetroot sunburn on my delicate Scottish skin. After having lunch there I go to studio. Webster is very charming when talking about the garden party but they make no mention of Anne’s bad mood. Apparently Inia te Wiata went back to Leslie Green’s house and they all had a party there. Anne asks if I can come on Monday from now on as they are going to teach at home on Tuesday.

10 October – Aunt Ina comes and we spend a day of constant natter as she runs down all our mutual relatives. We take her to Zoo Lake for tea.

11 October – Go into studio and lunch with Mum. Anne arrives in the afternoon. It is impossible to hold a grudge against her for long. Her arm is still sore and she feels sure she’s getting arthritis. Webster comes and says I might as well get on and do the LTCL. I sing My Heart and I for a last fling before thinking of the next exam.

12 October – Go to Mrs S in morning and have piano lesson and then work with Elaine. Just before choir practise Mrs S tells me that Webster was simply raving about me to her and saying how proud he is of me – and apparently Anne is also.

Dad phoned Webster today and he agreed that I could sublet the studio from next March and that I should go on with licentiate and fellowship.

We go to the Piccadilly and see Carry on Taxi.

14 October – I work hard at harmony. Ruth phones to ask me to some concerts. She’s given the Booths free tickets to the Maria Stander recital and is going to go with them. I wish I was going to that concert too.

Maria Stader (soprano)

15 October – Webster phones in the morning to ask if I’d play for him on Thursday, Friday and possibly Saturday as Anne is going to have her neck stretched. Naturally I agree. I decline during the rest of the day so get Mum to phone them to say I can’t come to lesson. Apparently he and Mum are now on Christian name terms. I phone him at night and he tells me the hours for accompanying. He says Anne will have to have a week of treatment. He asks whether I’m feeling any better now and tells me not to work so hard.

17 October – Accompany for Webster. During Linda’s lesson he spends time patting me on the cheek! Yvonne, Margriet, Louisetta, audition, Graham and Freddie come and we have jolly day with them. Freddie takes us to the garage and when Webster helps me out of the car he puts his arm around my waist and keeps it there. He takes me home and we talk outside for a while. I phone Anne to say he’s on his way home. She is feeling a lot better after the treatment. She was probably feeling ill on the day of the garden party and possibly didn’t even want to go to it!

18 October – Lucille arrives first and tells me all about her recently holiday. When Webster arrives wearing his dress suit, he tells me he’s going to the first night of Show Boat and Clara Butt will take me home. Lucille has her lesson and then I have mine during which we decide what to do for next exam. Selwyn, Myrna, Gertie and Charlotte come and all goes well as far as the piano is concerned. I say goodbye to him and am taken home by “Clara Butt” and husband. I feel a bit put out that Anne was not well enough to come to the studio but is well enough to attend the first night.

19 October – Go to Mrs S and have piano lesson. Go to Booth studio and Webster arrives shortly afterwards full of moans about last night’s late night at Show Boat. I make him some black coffee and we have Leanore who is also tired. Erica and Ruth follow. Ruth is very agitated and excited about going with them to hear Maria Stader. At one moment she tells Webster not to look at her when she’s singing and he says, “You want to spend the whole evening at the concert with me but you can’t bear me to look at you!” Robin is full of events in Show Boat chorus, and then we have Frances and Henrietta, sisters who sing duets together. Webster brings me home – we meet Margaret on the way to the garage. He tells me about their new house in Parktown North and about the wallpaper he has chosen for his bedroom. He is not keen on going to the concert as he is still very tired and says it’s a pity I couldn’t go instead of him but he knows Ruth would be upset if he didn’t go. He says he doesn’t like going out at night now that he is old!

20 October – Ruth phones in the morning to tell me about last night. She got home at 10.45 and they had coffee in the café in Parktown North afterwards. She asks me to go to a Shura Cherkasky recital at the SABC in the afternoon. Gill is there. Cherkasky is brilliant and plays the Mozart sonata I am playing myself. Ruth brings me home and we have supper and a cosy chat.

Shura Cherkassky

DIARIES continued – SEPTEMBER 1963.

28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I
sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her
blue Anglia and is a regular love.

Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!

3 September – Meet Gill Viljoen in town and we go skating. The British champion skater, Daphne Walker is there with two little girls.

Daphne Walker (1946)

We lunch at the SABC with Doreen Taylor. I talk to Arthur (tuba player) and see Edgar Cree, Gerrit Bonn and Thea Mullins’ sister, Wendy (Kim Shippey’s secretary). I go to singing and Webster gives me tea and tells me Anne is feeling a bit miserable and has probably caught a chill. She remarks on my hair style and even he says it looks beautiful. They say the lipstick they gave me looks lovely. Sing Father of Heav’n and do it well. Anne is impressed with my skates! I meet Doreen Craig after her trip to Europe.

6 September – Go into studio. Anne comes in looking too beautiful for words. She tells me about her arthritis which keeps her in constant agony. We decide that everyone has something to worry them.

10 September – Ear tests with Edith Sanders. I learn that Guy McG is the examiner for my Associate diploma. I go to the studio and Anne answers the door as Webster is on the phone with Mum. He comes into the kitchen and gives me a message. When Heather leaves Anne asks me if I should like to help at the theatrical garden party on 5 October with Ruth. They are on the committee – should be fun. Anne says I look more beautiful every week. They emote about all the music history I have to learn for diploma exam.

12 September – Go into studio and work very hard as diploma is looming. Anne arrives looking too lovely for words in a pretty summer dress. We run down The King and I together and she says I’m the only person to whom she can say it because S. Africans would say she was acting big! Linda Walters arrives and I go out and meet Webster on the ground floor. He is very sweet to me. Ah, what a life this is!

13 September – Go into studio. Desmond Wright calls. Lucille and Anne arrive and Webster gives me some tea and complains about the heat. I say if I don’t pass, he knows what I’ll do, and he says if I do, he’ll take the keys away! I do vast amount of scales and Anne tells met to open my mouth wider, and he says, “And a very pretty mouth it is too!”

I phone Ruth at night and we decide to go to the theatrical garden party. There is a disgusting article by Jon Sylvester in the Star about Webster. I phone the Star and complain for I feel really bitter about it!

The Star 13 September 1963. Jon Sylvester – radio critic

14 September – We go to see The Blue Lamp with a lovely Jack Warner of 15 years ago – very similar to studio picture.

16 September – Ruth finishes preliminary exams. I do ear tests with Edith then go up to the studio. Webster is still in one piece after the horrible slating by Jon Silvester in the paper. They tell me all about Mabel Fenney marrying again, Anne’s anaemia, and how well Lucille sang in her exam. He makes tea for us and we make arrangements about lessons next week. We go to the Victoria hotel and dine with Uncle John and Aunt Nellie McKee up from Cape Town. I drink wine!

18 September – Go to studio. Webster phones in the afternoon, calling me Jeannie, and asks me to accompany Selwyn and Dennis at an audition in Ansteys building at the home of Gwen Clark on Saturday. I agree, naturally enough. He tells me about Elijah which he is singing in Pietermaritzburg. I wish him luck and tell him I know he’ll sing beautifully! He says, “Bless you, dear,” when we say goodbye.

19 September – Go to studio and have dozens of phone calls including one from Brian Morris. Linda arrives before Anne and then when she comes, I have to show her the broken window of which she knows nothing. She says she hopes I don’t mind playing for Dennis and Selwyn on Saturday. Anne will probably be early in tomorrow after visit to the doctor.

20 September – Work in studio. When Anne arrives, she tells me she hasn’t got anaemia but still feels horrid. We have tea and she tells me that Webster refused to phone her from Michaelhouse to tell her how he is or to enquire about the blood test she had. She is very hurt. We do scales for the entire lesson. She gives me a lecture on my inferiority complex. I phone Dennis’s mother to arrange to meet them tomorrow. I wash the dishes before I leave. Lucille is doing The Merry Widow in Afrikaans in Kempton Park.

21 September – Accompany Dennis and Selwyn at Gwen Clark’s penthouse in Ansteys. Taubie Kushlik and Ockert Botha are there. The boys sing well. We have a lovely tea after the audition (for Amahl and the Night Visitors) is over. I go up to the studio afterwards and Anne is still there. She makes us coffee and tells me she loathes Gwen Clark and all the pseudo-theatrical types in Johannesburg. She says, “You must think I’m a bitch!” but I agree with her. She says that when they first arrived all the society types were inviting them to the races and other events and were not impressed that they were not rolling in money and had to work for a living. I stay in the studio until 2.00pm. Lucille’s father arrives to talk to Anne about Lucille.

22 September – Phone Ruth who tells me about her exams and how Anne raved about me yesterday during her lesson.

23 September – Ear tests. Edith plays me her pieces and I sing mine to her. Go to the studio and Anne is on the phone talking to Lucille’s father. She tells me she’s sick to death of him. She asks me to make tea and tells me about a visit to the Capri where she had the ghastly experience of seeing Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans. She says Webster did phone when he arrived at Michaelhouse after all. Webster phones the studio to say he’s home again. I wash the dishes.

24 September – Webster answers door and calls me, “Darling!” He says the trip was fun but tiring when I ask how he is keeping. Heather sings a ghastly wrong note and he says, “See what I mean!” We grimace at each other for ages – lovely! Anne tells me that Lucille just passed her exam. The examiner was not at all impressed with her voice.

27 September – Anne comes and we do the French song and when Webster arrives, he puts everything on tape. He says I shouldn’t take any pills – just a glass of water! Linda W arrives and tells me she thinks I sing most beautifully. Webster jokes with me and then says, “Darling, I wish you all the best of luck.” Ruth phones when I get home and I say I’ll see her at the garden party.

28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her blue Anglia and is a regular love.

Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!

29 September – Go to Mrs Sullivan. Margaret arrives in a state after her exam. Mrs S tells me that Webster embarrasses her when he makes her conduct the proceedings for their nursery school record. He told her that they are very proud of me. All the orphans at Nazareth House were allowed to stay up to listen to his programme last week and were very impressed. Listen to Webster’s Great Voices and he plays his Sound an Alarm which is marvellous!

Nursery School sing-along.

29 September – Go to studio to get the sheet music for Rendezvous. Webster answers – still with bad leg. Gertie is there with Anne and they all congratulate me on Grade VII piano exam 85%. Tell them about the record and then depart. I feel sad about Webster in many ways.

30 September – Go to see Kimberley Jim. Despite Jim Reeves being the star of the film it is very poor indeed. Webster has only a tiny part as the innkeeper but plays it well, complete with monocle.

Kimberley Jim with Jim Reeves, Clive Parnell, Arthur Swemmer , Webster and others.

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EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: AUGUST 1963

When Anne comes back to the studio we do Love’s Sickness and she tells me that Webster said today that my sight reading is phenomenal now! I have an hour today and really enjoy myself with her.

1 August –Heather arrives and then Webster who is in a lovely mood. We have Yvonne but Margriet doesn’t come so we have a chat about Leslie Green and Desmond Wright.I tell him I’ll soon be 20 and what have I done with my life? He says I’ll have done a great deal if I get the ATCL. Thea, Graham and Freddie come and he teases me through all of them and grins at me amiably We come home in Hillman and he asks me to phone Anne as he has forgotten to do so. I’m going in again on Tuesday.

2 August – Go to studio and work. I get the result for my harmony exam – honours! I leave for an hour while Lucille has her lesson. When I come back we go through Father of Heav’n and decide to make more use of the “or” vowel. She says she still doesn’t feel too wonderful. At half-past she goes to ABC for shoes and I make tea for us. When Anne comes back to the studio we do Love’s Sickness and she tells me that Webster said today that my sight reading is phenomenal now! I have an hour today and really enjoy myself with her.

3 August – Go into Mrs S. I get 88% for my harmony which is not bad, considering how ill I was that day. Webster has an excellent programme tonight – Marian Anderson, Robert Merrill and themselves singing the lovely Nocturne duet.

5 August – Go to SABC at night. I feel dizzy and have to go and sit in the foyer. Hester comes with me and we have a pleasant chat. All the boys from the choir ask me how I am keeping.

6 August – Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go up to studio and Webster arrives with a, “Hello, darling.” I tell him over tea about the dizzy turn and the theory exam. He’s pleased about the latter. I say that I didn’t think I would pass. He says, “I’ll smack your bottom if you talk like that again!” We have Linda Walters for a lesson and then I have my own lesson in which I manage to sing fairly well. He does slap my bottom after that and tells me I’m improving! Thea, Winnie and a girl called Lou-Anne come and the last-mentioned gives us a lift to the garage. In the car we talk about films and Mary Harrison. I phone Anne to let her know that he is on the way home as he forgot to do so before he left and she is as sweet as always.

8 August – Go to studio and work. Robert Lang phones to say he’ll send up a costume for Anne for tomorrow night. Heather arrives so we have a chat. Anne comes and I give her Bobby’s message and she is grateful. She congratulates me on my exam result and says Webster was full of it when he came home on Tuesday.

9 August – Go into the studio and accompany for the last time. Lucille arrives first so she sings a bit. He wishes her a happy birthday when he arrives. She sings well with her boyfriend and I have my lesson after she leaves and we do Dream of Gerontius which is very interesting. Gertie and Charlotte come next and then we are finished. He tells me in the car that they want to get a studio with a house attached and give up the present one which is rather disconcerting news.

Webster, Anne and Bill Brewer

10 August – Hilda returns from St Helena. Have a reactionary day. I do ear tests at Mrs S and see Hitchcock’s The Birds in the afternoon.

11 August – Phone Ruth in the afternoon. Hilda is definitely back for she saw her when she called at their house to get a record. They also told her of their horrible Northern Suburbs studio idea. It’ll break my heart if it comes off as I would never be able to go all that way for lessons.

12 August – I go and play at Afrikaans Eisteddfod for Connie (Mrs S’s pupil). She sings better than I expected her to sing and calls me “Tannie”!

Learner’s licence!

13 August – Go and get learner’s licence today and then lunch in Capeniro with Mum. I meet Flom (Frances de Vries Robbé) in the library. Go to singing. This time it’s Linda who has a dizzy turn so Webster walks with her to the station so that she can catch the train to Vereeniging. Anne and I discuss her attack and then I sing – not too badly for a change. When he comes back he says, “Where’s that voice coming from?” He makes me tea after my lesson when Thea is having her lesson. He says, “I haven’t asked how you are yet?” I feel rather miserable – perhaps I’m just jealous because they’re both back again in partnership and don’t need me any more.

14 August – I go into the studio and Linda’s mother phones to thank Webster for walking her to the station. I go to Mrs S for an hour’s lesson and get my accompaniment fee. We go to Afrikaans eisteddfod at night to hear Lucille singing the duet with her boyfriend. The Booths haven’t arrived and Lucille is in a frightful state. She says I will be able to play if they don’t come. They do – the car broke down off Jan Smuts Avenue so Dad takes Webster out to collect it. Anne sits behind me and we have a chat. Lucille and boyfriend sing well but they don’t win anything. Anne argues with Webster. We were going to take them home but their car starts.

15 August – Go to studio and work. Joy Anderson phones. When Anne comes in we discuss events of last night and have a laugh. They spoke to the adjudicator afterwards – she had seen them on TV. Heather is there for her lesson. I meet Webster on the way down and he says he’s still trying to recover from the drama of last night. He didn’t get to sleep until 2 in the morning.

16 August – Selwyn’s mother phones to say that he can’t come so I phone Anne to let her know. Anne arrives and tells me that the Anglia broke down. Lucille arrives with a sore throat. Julie, the girl before me is going to be in Sound of Music and auditioned for a Jamie Uys film today. Anne is furious that she wasn’t asked to audition. We do the Cycle of Life which isn’t too bad. He sings it with me and tells me to use my whole body when I sing it. I am there for a long time and wish them luck for their concert tomorrow.

17 August – Skip going to Mrs S and go to studio instead. What a terrible state of affairs when I’m happier in a place with no one there than to be with other people who are less amenable than the place. I love it! We have lunch in Galaxy and see How the West Was Won at the Cinerama. Listen to Webster at night and he plays Great South African Voices.

20 August – Go skating with Gill in the morning and enjoy being the best skater there for a change! Go to singing and Webster remarks on my skates and concludes that I went with my (non-existent) boyfriend. Anne tells me the Ficksburg concert was a great success and Desmond Wright played well. Webster and Anne argue all the time which is embarrassing! She goes to John Orrs and he tells me that they haven’t yet decided about giving up the studio.

21 August – Go to Mrs S and do ear tests with Edith. I work in the Booth studio. I listen to Webster’s ballad programme. Their duet, Love’s Garden of Roses is lovely.

22 August – Go to studio early. Anne arrives and tells me she wishes the other pupils would work as hard as I do. She calls me sweetie. Ruth phones and suggests I meet her after her lesson on my birthday and we can go for coffee together afterwards. She says they’ll be able to wish me a happy birthday too.

23 August – Lucille arrives early and we “goo” over the beautiful photographs. I meet Webster in the street and he is sweet to me. He gives me tea when I get back. We go over the things for the exam and they are absolutely delighted with it all. He tells me that my voice is getting much bigger and better.

24 August –Go into studio to collect glasses. The men working there greet me like an old friend – I suppose they think I’m their daughter or niece!

27 August – I go skating with Gill again and we have lunch in town. I have super singing lesson. Webster makes me tea and calls me darling and Anne admires my new hairstyle. Into the bargain I manage to sing very well. He teases me and throws a paper pellet at me!

28 August – Go to studio and have doleful conversation with estate agent! Obviously they are still thinking about having a studio attached to the house they intend to buy.

29 August –Work in studio and lunch with Mum. Anne comes and tells me that the Estate Agent should phone but doesn’t say why!

30 August – Leslie Green phones and is most affable. Lucille and Anne come and I tell them to help themselves to Danish pastries which I have brought in to celebrate my birthday. When I return Webster come into the kitchen and potters over me. When I go into the studio there is a birthday gift on the piano for me. I am simply delighted and thank them very much indeed. I sing my exam songs and discuss who the examiner will be. Webster says he’s sure it’ll be Guy McG for the diploma. They wish me a very happy day tomorrow.

31 August – I go to studio to fetch Ruth. Webster answers door and wishes me a happy birthday once again. Anne comes in and sings, “Happy birthday” to me and kisses me all over the place and Ruth does too! Ruth and I go for coffee and Webster says, “Not too much whisky!” In the afternoon we see The King and I with a Durban cast. At night Webster plays In Native Worth and Love Calling Me Home. A lovely birthday – but a teenager no longer!

PUPILS OF WEBSTER BOOTH AND ANNE ZIEGLER IN JOHANNESBURG.

Students of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

The following people studied singing with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth at their studio on the eighth floor of Polliack’s Building, Pritchard Street, Johannesburg, or at their home in Parktown North. The list is incomplete as it has been compiled from memory and from the diaries I kept at the time I was accompanying for Webster in the studio. In some cases, I have forgotten people’s full names.

LUCILLE ACKERMAN (Soprano) I was in the middle of my lesson when Lucille and her family arrived for her audition. She had spent a year recuperating after an illness on the family farm near Piet Retief. During that year she had worked at improving her singing technique. Hendrik Sussann, the well known Afrikaans bandleader and violinist, lived on a neighbouring farm. He featured her as a singer in his band’s broadcasts on the SABC. She was nineteen years old – a year older than me – and she had a remarkably mature and pleasing soprano. She was already a consummate performer, but needed lessons to improve her musicianship. She and I did several singing examinations at the same time.

During her studies with Anne and Webster, she took the lead in an Afrikaans production of The Merry Widow in Kempton Park. She went on to make a number of Afrikaans recordings and formed a successful duet partnership with the broadcaster, the late Francois van Heyningen, who became her second husband.

DENNIS ANDREWS (boy soprano) I played for Dennis and Selwyn Lotzoff at an audition for Taubie Kushlick’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. The audition took place one Saturday morning in Gwen Clark’s luxurious penthouse on top of Anstey’s Building in central Johannesburg. I accompanied the boys on an excellent grand piano, and afterwards we were treated to a slap-up tea with Mrs Kushlick, Mrs Clark and Ockert Botha. Neither boy won the part of Amahl as a boy soprano was imported from England.

DORIS BOULTON (soprano) Doris Boulton was originally from the Potteries district of England. Her husband worked at a pottery near Irené, on the outskirts of Pretoria. She had an exceptional soprano voice and was also extremely musical – the two gifts do not always go together! She had broadcast extensively with the SABC, but with a change of management, her file was mysteriously lost and she was required to re-audition. This second audition was not favourable, despite her being a better singer than many who continued to give regular broadcasts.

She was singing Richard Strauss’s Serenade in an impossible key, and my attempt at sight-reading this makes me blush even forty-odd years on. Doris and her husband gave Anne and Webster a beautiful white tiled table, inscribed with roses and a few bars of their signature tune, Only a Rose, made by Mr Boulton on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary in 1963.

In 1966 Doris Boulton produced The Merry Widow in Irené and took the leading role of the widow in question, Hannah Glavari.

Webster and Anne attending “The Merry Widow” first night as guests of honour.
Doris Boulton as the Merry Widow (1966)

Doris remained friends with Anne and Webster and visited them a number of times in Penrhyn Bay. She returned to the UK some years ago and settled in Stone. I was sorry to hear from her daughter, Jan Bruns that Doris had passed away in 2008.

 

HEATHER COXON (soprano) Heather was a charming young schoolgirl. She had a light, sweet soprano.

ROSELLE DEAVALL (mezzo soprano) I first heard Roselle sing when she was fourteen years old. I was impressed at the maturity of her voice at such a young age. We discovered that we lived in the same suburb, and visited each other several times. I still have a reel-to-reel recording of her singing The Mountains of Morne, complete with Irish accent.

She stopped having lessons but took them up again after she left school.  In 1966 Webster told me that Roselle had stopped having lessons with them as “They were unable to teach me anything more.” The last I heard was that she was singing with the Performing Arts Company of the Free State. (PACOFS).

NORMA DENNIS (soprano) Norma was the understudy to Diane Todd in the role of Eliza in the production of My Fair Lady in the Empire Theatre, Johannesburg.

Mabel Fenney (extreme left) as Jill-all-Alone in East London production of Merrie England. (Photo courtesy of Julian Nicholas)

MABEL FENNEY PERKIN (soprano) Mabel met Anne and Webster first when she appeared with them in a production of Merrie England in East London, in the Eastern Cape. At the time she was preparing for further music diplomas, so she decided to come up to Johannesburg to have lessons with the Booths.

In 1960 she came to Jeppe Girls’ High as a relief music teacher and gave a recital for the girls in the School Hall. She was instrumental in my decision to study with Anne and Webster. She won the University of South Africa Singing Bursary and studied at the Hochschule in Berlin for two years.

She met her second husband, Maurice Perkin while she was abroad and after her divorce and remarriage to Maurice, she lived and worked in England for a number of years before they came out to South Africa. During her time in England, she sang the role of Susannah in a semi-professional production of The Marriage of Figaro. I met her again in 1976 when she was living in Florida (South Africa) and we became very good friends. We sang duets together until she and her husband retired to the South Coast of Natal.

In April 2009 Mabel celebrated her ninetieth birthday. She died in Uvongo on 6 March 2011, just a month short of her ninety-second birthday. She is sadly missed but ever remembered by me.

VALERIE FIGGINS (soprano) Valerie Figgins also attended Jeppe Girls’ High School, and she too was present at the Mabel Fenney recital. Valerie had a strong voice at an early age and studied with another teacher in Johannesburg before going to Anne and Webster for lessons. I do not know how long she remained with them. We were in the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal’s (PACT) production of Nabucco together in 1965.

ROBINETTE GORDON (soprano) Robin had a sweet soprano voice. When I first met her when I was accompanying for Webster she was singing in the Johannesburg Operatic Society’s production of Show Boat, in which the great Maori bass, Inia Te Wiata was engaged to sing Ole Man River. She went on to sing in further JODS productions of The Yeomen of the Guard, The Merry Widow and Guys and Dolls. I remember coaching her in a jazzy chorus in the latter work – Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat! She later joined PACT, where she sang in a number of operas. I was sorry to read of her death several years ago.

MARY HARRISON (mezzo soprano) Mary was an Australian who came to South Africa with a production of My Fair Lady. She and the understudy to Scottish Diane Todd’s Eliza Doolittle, Norma Dennis, took lessons with Anne and Webster while they were appearing in My Fair Lady in Johannesburg. Mary was an attractive redhead, with a lively personality and ready wit. She stayed on in South Africa after the show and established herself as a professional actress in Durban. She died prematurely some years ago. I was also sorry to hear that Diane Todd died from leukemia in London earlier this month  (April 2010) at the age of 72.

DUDLEY HOLMES (bass) Dudley was completely taken aback to find me at the piano for one of his lessons. He told me later that he had never sung for anyone but Anne and Webster and was very nervous to sing in front of me. He need not have worried. He had a pleasing bass voice, and went on to do many concerts, recitals and shows, first in Johannesburg, and later in Kimberley, where he lived for many years. He returned to Johannesburg some years ago and kindly contributed a memory to my book with an article about his long association and friendship with Anne and Webster.

INNES KENNERSLEY I played for Innes, who was a miner, several times. At the time he was singing a series of Victorian and Edwardian ballads, such as Goodbye and Parted. He used to arrive at his lesson with a large reel-to-reel tape recorder and record the entire lesson. I wonder what happened to all those interesting recordings. They would certainly be of great interest to me if they are still around.

MYRNA LEACH I played at some of Myrna’s lessons and got to know her better when we were in The Merry Widow together in 1964. She had recently married and was particularly proud that Webster had sung My Prayer at her wedding. I believe she subsequently divorced and married for a second time later.

MARGARET LINKLATER (soprano) Margaret was Scottish and lived on the East Rand, where her family ran a bakery in Benoni. She had a very pleasing soprano voice. I remember her singing Gounod’s O Divine Redeemer.

ROBIN LISTER (boy soprano) Robin had an exceptional soprano voice, more like a mature female soprano than the typical Ernest Lough boy soprano. He made several recordings which Anne and Webster supervised. Through the recordings he became well known and appeared at a number of concerts until his voice broke. After his voice broke, Anne and Webster taught him to play the piano. He became an engineer and immigrated to Australia.  Robin Lister sings “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”. 

Robin Lister (1964)

SELWYN LOTZOFF (boy soprano) I played for Selwyn at several eisteddfods and at the Amahl and the Night Visitors audition. I particularly remember him singing the Afrikaans song, Die Roos. He immigrated to America and now lives in New York. He is pictured (above left) with his wife.

COLLEEN MCMENAMIN (mezzo soprano) Colleen had a rich mezzo voice and she was very keen to turn professional. She auditioned for Brian Brooke’s production of The Sound of Music at the Brooke Theatre. Brian Brooke was impressed with her singing but suggested that she should take speech lessons before considering a stage career. Despite this setback she appeared in several professional productions in Johannesburg.

BRIAN MORRIS (baritone) He had a voice reminiscent of Peter Dawson’s and a confident stage presence. I got to know him better when he sang in PACT’s production of Nabucco in 1965. Anne chose Brian to take the leading male role of Danillo in her Bloemfontein production of The Merry Widow in 1965. Through this blog I have heard that Brian died in 2006 and is survived by his wife Denise. Those who heard him sing through the years will remember his beautiful voice and charming personality.

PIET MULLER (tenor) Piet Muller had a beautiful tenor voice. He was studying with Anne and Webster in 1962 and for a time had the lesson before mine. I particularly remember him singing Can I Forget You? on the day Webster returned to the studio after his serious illness in 1962. Webster sang part of the song to illustrate a particular point to Piet. Amazingly, Webster’s voice sounded as good as ever despite his illness and his advancing age. Several years ago I heard from Piet’s family member that Piet had died some years ago.

RUTH ORMOND (soprano) Ruth was my special friend at the studio. She and I joined the SABC choir,when it was resurrected in 1961, and Anne suggested that we should meet one another. She was still at school, a year-and-a-half younger than me and, like me, she was originally from Glasgow. She was short, with piercing blue eyes and honey-coloured hair. We both thought the world of Anne and Webster and we loved singing, although neither of us was filled with confidence about our vocal abilities. We did exams together and although we lived a fair distance apart, we visited each other regularly. We made up for the distance between us by making frequent telephone calls. At the cost of a tickey (3d) a call, we could afford to talk as long as we liked – and we did! We made tape recordings of our singing and impromptu play-readings. I still have these recordings in my possession today. In 1962 her mother won a substantial amount of money in the (then) Rhodesian Sweep.

My dear friend, Ruth Ormond, 1963

Ruth went to Cape Town University to study singing in 1964 and sadly died of a cerebral haemorrhage at the end of her first term there. Her parents created an award in her name at Cape Town for the best first-year soprano. She was nineteen years old when she died. I still miss her. I have never had a dearer friend.

LINDA WALTERS Linda came all the way from Vereeniging for her singing lessons. She sang lighter material, like Fly me to the Moon.

ERNEST WESTBROOK (tenor) I did not know Ernest when he was taking lessons, but I met him many years later when Paddy O’Byrne,  the broadcaster gave him my phone number. He had many of Anne and Webster’s recordings and was also an admirer of the Australian bass-baritone, Peter Dawson.

MARY WRIGHT (soprano) Mary’s brother, Desmond Wright, had conducted The Yeomen of the Guard in 1963 when Webster took over the role of Colonel Fairfax at short notice. She had a pleasant light soprano and concentrated on oratorio.

OTHERS: Richard Darley, Elizabeth du Plessis (soprano), Jennifer Fieldgate, John Fletcher, Yvonne Marais (soprano), Joan Metson, Thea Mullins, Betsie Oosthuizen (soprano), Bill Perry (tenor), Piet van Zyl (bass).

I do not remember the full names of the following: Corrie, Dell, Erica, Ferdy, Frances and Henrietta (sisters who sang duets together), Gertie, Graham, Gretchen, Miss Greyvenstein, Hennie, Janet, Kathy, Leanore, Lorentzia, Louella, Louis, Marian, Myrtle, Nellie (a mezzo-soprano who moved to the Free State), Reeka, Shirley, Winnie (a Scot who lived in Modderfontein and sang in the local operatic society).

If anyone can tell me what became of any of Anne and Webster’s pupils, or if you studied with them, I would be very glad to hear from you.

Jean Collen 12 September 2018.