THE ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH STORY – PART ONE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webster and Paddy Prior, his second wife.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANNE ZIEGLER (1910 – 2003)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jean Collen  COPYRIGHT 2005

Updated April 2019.
 

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

Paddy Prior and Webster
Anne and Webster (1957)

PROGRAMMES AND ADVERTS (1923 – 1939)

Here is a copy of a letter sent from “Madeleine” who was on holiday on the Isle of Wight during the summer of 1934. She sent the letter and photograph
below to her friends Lily and Phil, who must have been
fans of Webster Booth.
Dear Lily and Phil,
Thought you would like a Photograph of Webster. We
went to see Sunshine the night before last – they were
great. The weather up to now has been very fine with a
strong wind blowing. I must say I like the Island very much, and I am enjoying myself very much indeed.
Best love to you both,
Madeleine.

November 1923 Professional debut in Yeomen of the Guard with D’Oyly Carte.
1930 West End Debut at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Webster Booth as the Duke of Buckingham in his West End Debut 16 April 1930
Webster Booth as the Duke of Buckingham in his West End Debut 16 April 1930 with Lilian Davies.
1933 Scarborough
1 February 1933- Galashiels Concert with Garda Hall and George Baker. 1 February 1933 This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2019-03-14_213832.png Webster in The Invader with Buster Keaton (1934) Irené Eastwood in Holst’s The Wandering Scholar in Liverpool (1934) This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2019-05-27_103847.png This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 12-october-1934-by-appointment-1934.png
February 1935 Radio People Anne
The Invader (1934) with Buster Keaton,
1935
A Kingdom for a Cow (Kurt Weill) 5 July 1936, Savoy Theatre with Jacqueline Francell
1936 The Robber Symphony
The Robber Symphony (film) with Magda Sonja
11 December 1935 Samson and Delilah, Hastings Choral union, Whiterock Pavilion.
December 1935
1935 Anne’s first Panto: Mother Goose Liverpool.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 10-april-1936-wb-good-friday-messiah-royal-albert-hall.png Webster’s first Good Friday Messiah – 10 April 1936. Hallé Messiah 17 December 1936
December 1936
Cinderella in Edinburgh, December 1936 with Will Fyffe. 11 February 1937
Hiawatha, June 1937
Hiawatha, June 1937
Hiawatha, June 1937
February 1938
Saturday Night Revue film “I love the moon”.
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden 1938
November 9 1938
December 17 1938
6 January 1939 concert, WB, Flotsam and Jetsam, Chesterfield
Concert Chesterfield 6 January 1939

WEBSTER BOOTH IN ORATORIO

Webster Booth and oratorioAlthough Webster Booth is remembered today as a romantic duettist in partnership with his third wife, Anne Ziegler, he told me that oratorio had given him the greatest satisfaction in his singing career. He was certainly a renowned oratorio singer in his day but this has been forgotten by most people who know more about him singing We’ll Gather Lilacs than tenor solos in various oratorios.

Webster Booth and oratorio

Although Webster Booth is remembered today as a romantic duettist in partnership with his third wife, Anne Ziegler, he told me that oratorio had given him the greatest satisfaction in his singing career. He was certainly a renowned oratorio singer in his day but this has been forgotten by most people who know more about him singing We’ll Gather Lilacs than tenor solos in various oratorios.

Two of my most cherished possessions are Webster’s Messiah and Elijah scores. The Messiah score had belonged to his father, Edwin Booth, whose name is written in the score, followed by Webster’s own name.

Webster’s Messiah score

Elijah cover

In the two front pages, he listed some of his Messiah dates from 1928 when he sang at the Birmingham Town Hall on 3 November 1928 with the Choral and Orchestral Union, to performances of various oratorios in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa with Robert Selley at the Oratorio Festivals there in 1961. The list includes a performance at the Royal Lodge Chapel on 15 February 1948 with Anne Ziegler in the presence of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, performances with the Huddersfield Choral Society, the Royal Choral Society and the Hallé Concert Society. Several Good Friday Messiahs at the Albert Hall are listed, where the entire work is performed without any cuts.

His first Good Friday Messiah was on the 10 April 1936 when he was 34 years of age. The Royal Choral Society concerts were usually with his champion, Malcolm Sargent as conductor, but he also sang with Sir Thomas Beecham at the Queens Hall on 17 December 1938.

21 December 1938 Messiah

He sang in many performances of Elijah, The Creation, Joshua, Judas Maccabeus, The Creation and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. It was after an afternoon performance of this last work at the Queen’s Hall on 10 May 1941 that this beautiful hall, Webster’s favourite concert hall, was destroyed by an incendiary bomb that night. Webster preferred Handel to Bach, but I see that he did sing in a performance of the latter’s Christmas Oratorio in South Africa in 1960.

December 1938 Messiah

Another Good Friday Messiah in April 1943

I think it is sad that he did not make a recording of the Dream of Gerontius as he was renowned for his performance in this work. Neither did he take part in complete recordings of Messiah or Elijah. When I was studying with him and Anne Ziegler I learnt the part of the Angel in The Dream of Gerontius and he sang the tenor part with me – how I wish I had a recording of it now! He sang in the first performance in South Africa of the work with the young Keith Jewell, Cape Town’s city organist (then aged 27) in 1957, the year after the Booths arrived in South Africa.

People in South Africa were inclined to think that the Booths had been out of favour in the UK and that was the reason why they moved to South Africa in 1956. This was far from the case. Admittedly their recording contract with HMV had been cancelled in 1951 and I have never been able to work out why the contract was cancelled as they were both in excellent voice at the time. But they had plenty of theatre, television, radio and concert engagements in the 1950s. Webster sang his last Messiahs with the Huddersfield Choral Society in December 1955 and January 1956. They moved to South Africa because of increasing problems with the Inland Revenue rather than because they were not as popular as before.

Anne Ziegler sang in exactly one first class performance of Messiah in Blackpool in January of 1944. Doctor Malcolm Sargent (as he was at that time) conducted the performance with the Huddersfield Choral Society.

1944 Blackpool Messiah

As a thirteen-year-old girl, I heard Webster and Anne sing in a performance of Messiah at St James’ Presbyterian Church which was then situated in Mars Street Malvern. The advertisement below (from 1956)  shows the same soloists and choir at St George’s Presbyterian Church (the main Presbyterian Church in Johannesburg) which appeared a year later  at St James. Even at that young age, I was aware that it must have been a come-down for Webster to be singing this work in a suburban church in South Africa after he had been singing at the Albert Hall not very long before. While Anne sang in the performance at St James under the musical director of the main Presbyterian Church in Johannesburg, Drummond Bell, she was not asked to sing in more important oratorio performances, such as the one at the Johannesburg City Hall a month later, or with Robert Selley at the Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival.

In 1957 the first South African performance of The Dream of Gerontius (Elgar) was presented at the City Hall in Cape Town with Webster in the main role, conducted by Keith Jewell (aged 27).

The Dream of Gerontius was also presented in Port Elizabeth at the Oratorio Festival conducted by Robert Selley, where Webster was a soloist from 1957 to 1962.

27 November 1961 – SABC bulletin.

In 1963 Webster was invited to sing in a performance of Elijah with the combined choirs of Michaelhouse and St Anne’s in Natal, conducted by the young Barry Smith who was musical director at Michaelhouse at the time.

The following year he sang in a performance of Creation with the same singers. This time Ronald Charles was the musical director at Michaelhouse.

By that time Webster was 64 years of age. When he moved to Knysna he presented excerpts of various oratorios with the Knysna Choral Society and (in his late sixties) sang several bass solos in Elijah in 1968, something he had always wanted to do as he had a very wide range and a resonant lower register.

Webster’s oratorio recordings include the arias from Handel’s Messiah, Judas Maccabeus, Samson, and Acis and Galatea, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and St Paul, and Haydn’s Creation.

Jean Collen

12 July 2017.

Revised and enlarged on 13 March 2019.

 

WEBSTER BOOTH AND GILBERT AND SULLIVAN.

In 1926 Doctor Malcolm Sargent (as he was then) took over as conductor for the London season at the Prince’s Theatre and Leslie considered that period to be one of his happiest and most fulfilling times with the company. It was then when he asked Sargent to listen to his voice and tell him whether he thought he could make it as an opera singer. Sargent told him that if he did not have a private income he should forget about singing in opera as the pay was very poor.

Webster Booth and Gilbert and Sullivan.

As a young man, Webster Booth was serving articles as an accountant in Birmingham and taking singing lessons in his spare time at the Midland Institute with Dr Richard Wassell, the organist, and choirmaster at St Martin’s Church in the Bull Ring, Birmingham. He was a tenor soloist in the church and fulfilling engagements as tenor soloist in regional oratorio performances as far apart as Wales and Scotland.

Midland Institute where Webster had lessons with Dr Richard Wassell.

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Interior of St Martin’s Church, the Bullring, Birmingham

St Martin's

In 1923 the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company came to Birmingham and he managed to obtain an audition with New Zealander, Harry Norris, the D’Oyly Carte conductor. Harry Norris was impressed with Webster’s voice and on his recommendation, he was summoned to see Rupert D’Oyly Carte in London. He was meant to audit a firm’s books in South Wales. Instead, he decided to throw caution to the wind and went to London for the audition instead. He sang five or six songs to an unreceptive D’Oyly Carte and his general manager, Richard Collett.

‘I became increasingly anxious. It was like singing to two mummies…
”I think he’ll do,” Mr D’Oyly Carte said in a rather pained voice, thinking, no doubt, that here was yet another name one the pay-list.
“I should think so, sir,” was the reply.
‘Thus unenthusiastically was I welcomed into the Profession of the Stage.’ (Duet, p. 34)

Although he had been doing well in accountancy, he abandoned his job with little regret to become a professional singer, making his debut with the company as one of the Yeomen in The Yeomen of the Guard at the Theatre Royal, Brighton on 9 September 1923.

In 1924 he married Winifred Keey, the daughter of Edgar Keey, his former headmaster at Aston Commercial School. Winifred borrowed £100 from a relative, with no intention of repaying it, and used the money to follow Leslie to London against her parents’ wishes, or possibly, even without their knowledge. They might have approved of the match had Leslie remained a respectable accountant like his elder brother, Norman, but they were against her taking up with a chorus boy in the D’Oyly Carte. Her family had no more to do with her, partly because of her defiance of their wishes and partly because she had borrowed such a large sum of money under false pretences from a member of the family. Because they disowned her they never knew that she and Leslie had married or that she gave birth to a son, and, thinking the worst of her, imagined that she and Leslie were living together in sin.

Winifred and Leslie’s son, Keith was born the year after their marriage on 12 June 1925, and his birth was registered in Birmingham North.

6 August 1925 – Borough, Stratford. Interest remains unabated in the D’Oyly Carte company, now in the second of their two weeks’ engagement at this theatre. On Tuesday The Yeomen of the Guard was staged, and met with the usual enthusiastic reception from an audience who obviously enjoyed every number. Encores were frequent. The entrance of Mr Henry A Lytton as Jack Point was naturally the signal for an outburst of applause, which was fully justified by his consistently fine work in this well-written role. His apt mingling of humour and pathos is amongst the best things he has ever done. As the other strolling singer Miss Winifred Lawson made a distinct success, singing and acting with real talent. Happily cast also were Mr Leo Sheffield as the grim gaoler and Miss Aileen Davies as Phoebe. Miss Bertha Lewis made a capital Dame Carruthers, whose chief song was rendered artistically; and Miss Irene Hill scored as Kate. Mr Sydney Pointer’s agreeable voice helped him to make Colonel Fairfax a prominent figure, and Mr Darrell Fancourt was a strong Sergeant Meryll. Others who shared in the success were Mr Joseph Griffin as Sir Richard, Mr Herbert Aitken as Leonard, and Mr Leslie W. Booth as the First Yeoman. The stage director is still Mr J.M. Gordon and Mr Harry Norris is the touring musical director.
In 1926 Doctor Malcolm Sargent (as he was then) took over as conductor for the London season at the Prince’s Theatre and Leslie considered that period to be one of his happiest and most fulfilling times with the company. It was then when he asked Sargent to listen to his voice and tell him whether he thought he could make it as an opera singer. Sargent told him that if he did not have a private income he should forget about singing in opera as the pay was very poor.

18 November 1926 – D’Oyly Carte Canadian Visit. It has been arranged for the D’Oyly Carte principal company to visit Canada at the end of the season at the Princes on December 19. The company will embark for Canada in the steamship Metagama on the 24th. The tour will open in Montreal on January 4. Mr Richard Collett, the general manager of the company, will be in charge of the tour.

After a stay of two weeks in Montreal, the company will proceed to Toronto and thence to Winnipeg, staying in each of these cities for a fortnight. There will also be visits to Lethbridge, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island. The tour will end at Montreal in the middle of May. The Mikado, The Gondoliers, The Yeomen of the Guard, and HMS Pinafore will form the repertory. The leading principals, with the exception of Miss Elsie Griffin, will take part in the tour. Miss Griffin’s place will be filled by Miss Irene Hill. Misses Bertha Lewis, Winifred Lawson, Aileen Davies, Messrs Henry A Lytton, Darrell Fancourt, Leo Sheffield, and Charles Goulding are included in the company.
Webster Booth sang Your Tiny Hand is Frozen at the ship’s concert, so impressing principal soprano Winifred Lawson that she was not at all surprised when he soon rose to fame after he left the company. He was particularly impressed when the chorus sang Hail Poetry in the open air when the company visited Chief Big Crow and Chief Starlight in the Sarcee Reserve, Calgary.

Passenger list on return to Liverpool 

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SS Megantic (White Star) return to Liverpool from Canada, May 1927.

He stayed with the company for four and a half years but made no great advancement from singing in the chorus, small parts and understudying the tenor principal roles. In Duet, his joint autobiography, with Anne Ziegler, he complained that the only way he would advance in the company was to wait patiently to fill “dead men’s shoes”. Despite this observation, he was one of the few singers allowed to record individual songs from the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire without prior approval of the D’Oyly Carte family.
His recordings of Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes and A Wand’ring Minstrel under the baton of gifted conductor, a fellow native of Birmingham, Leslie Heward, who died tragically young, remain unsurpassed and are now available on CD.

Leslie was away on tour for fifty weeks of the year and Winifred, left alone with her small son, was estranged from her parents although living in the suburb of Moseley in the same city. Leslie had suspicions that all was not well at home when he arrived home from a tour with D’Oyly Carte to find Keith sitting by himself on the doorstep. Winifred had left her small son to his own devices while she went dancing. Several years later, she suddenly deserted Leslie and his son.

Leslie searched for Winifred in every town where he happened to be singing, but despite desperate attempts to trace her, he never found her, and eventually divorced her in 1931, citing Trevor Davey as co-respondent. Leslie was granted custody of Keith, who decided on his sixth birthday that he never wanted to see his mother again.

After the stability of a regular – if small – salary from D’Oyly Carte, he was now a freelance performer with a small son to support and no regular money to his name. In the D’Oyly Carte Company he was known as Leslie W. Booth, but now he adopted his middle name and became known as Webster Booth on stage, although his family and close friends continued to call him Leslie for the rest of his life. One of his boyhood nicknames was Jammy, and he once signed a photograph “Yours sincerely, Kingy”!

LWB -01

26 May 1939 – Gilbert and Sullivan The scheme of the London Music Festival is designed to embrace all the chief musical activities of the metropolis and it was proper that the popular concerts given by Mr Ernest Makower at the London Museum should have their place in it. The concert given on Wednesday evening was an unusual one, though Mr Makower never keeps to any beaten path in his selection of music for performance. It was felt that no English festival would be really complete if Gilbert and Sullivan was not represented in it. So, with the permission of Mr D’Oyly Carte, Dr Sargent arranged a programme of selections from the famous comic operas. In a preliminary talk, Dr Sargent apologised for going against Sullivan’s expressed wish that his operatic music should not be performed in concert form.

But no excuse was necessary to justify the admirable singing of the extracts by Miss Irene Eisinger, Mr Webster Booth, and Mr George Baker. We do not often hear Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes so well sung in a theatre. Miss Eisinger’s songs reminded us that Sullivan’s heroines descended at no great distance from Mozart’s soubrettes, whom we are accustomed to hearing her sing so delightfully. It was good too to hear the music played by the Boyd Neel orchestra, whose contributions included the delightful patchwork overture, Un Ballo and the Iolanthe overture. There was, as usual, a large and enthusiastic audience.

1953 – The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (film). Robert Morley, Ian Wallace, Owen Brannigan, Harold Williams and voices of Webster Booth, Elsie Morrison, John Cameron.
Webster was annoyed at the billing he was given in this film. He did not appear in it but his voice was dubbed for Colonel Fairfax in the scene from The Yeomen of the Guard and in the final section singing an echoing version of A Wand’ring Minstrel.
The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan 

January 1962 When the copyright on Gilbert’s words was lifted at the end of 1961 Webster was asked to present a Gilbert and Sullivan series of programmes on the English Service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

1962 WB radio

1963 Only a few weeks before The Johannesburg Operatic Society was due to open with The Yeomen of the Guard the committee decided that they needed a stronger Colonel Fairfax than the person originally cast in the role. Webster (aged 61) was asked to take over what is essentially the juvenile lead. He was a great success in the role.

2014-03-13_140054

14 June 1963 (from my 5-year diary)

14 jUNE 1963

4 to 14 April 1973 – The Mikado, Guild Theatre, East London, The East London Light Operatic Society, Pamela Emslie, Colin Carney, Bernie Lee, Leigh Evans, Irene McCarthy, Jim Hagerty and Jimmy Nicholas, produced by Webster Booth. The musical director was Jean Fowler.

I had moved to East London at the beginning of 1973 and joined the show at the last minute. I had a very happy reunion with Webster after seven years apart.

Jean Collen 23 August 2018.

 

Mikado, Guild Theatre, East London 1973

GRAND OPERA AND SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR

Webster Booth had always hoped to sing in Grand Opera despite Malcolm Sargent’s advice that unless he had a private income it would be best to leave opera alone. In 1938 he was asked by Sir Thomas Beecham to go to Covent Garden and sing for him. By that time he was already an established singer on the radio, on record,  in oratorio and lighter forms of entertainment and was rather affronted that he should have to audition at all. Sir Thomas and Lady Emerald Cunard were seated in the middle of the empty auditorium and chatted to one another while he sang Your Tiny Hand is Frozen from La Bohème and The Flower Song from Carmen. To add insult to injury Sir Thomas offered him two very small parts – one in The Magic Flute, the other as the tenor singer in Rosenkavalier at the princely sum of £10 per performance and nothing for rehearsals.

Unlike Sir Thomas’s disdainful attitude towards Webster, Erich Kleiber, who was conducting Der Rosenkavalier was most impressed with his voice and congratulated him on his performance of the aria before the whole company. It was during the first performance of Rosenkavalier that the famous soprano, Lotte Lehmann, who was playing the role of the Marschallein, stopped singing in the middle of the performance and walked off the stage. She had been informed before the performance that her husband had been arrested by the Nazis.



Early in 1939, Webster appeared in Rosenkavalier at Sadler’s Wells and accepted no fee. Miss Lilian Baylis could only afford to pay him £4 per performance. Webster wrote in his autobiography, Duet: “I laughed and replied, “Don’t bother with the £4. I’ll sing four performances for you anyway!”

 

Although Webster was offered the part of Lohengrin and other roles at Covent Garden in 1951 during the Festival of Britain, he turned it down.  People often question why he “wasted so much time” singing duets in Variety, but one of the reasons he did this was because Variety paid a great deal more than Opera and required far less hard work. 
 
September 1 2012 is the
centenary of the death of the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who died
at the early age of 37 on September 1 1912. Despite his early death he
left a legacy of fine music behind him. I have many of his piano solos
in my possession and get much pleasure in playing them.


Webster Booth was associated with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor because of his many appearances in Hiawatha,
Coleridge-Taylor’s best known and most popular work. He made his first appearance in this work at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1936 with Harold Williams and others
and made another appearance in Hiawatha in June 1937, shortly before he sailed for New York the following month.


Before the war, the work was presented in full native-American costume and
here is Webster in his costume below. Dr Malcolm Sargent (as he was
then) conducted the work and continued to present it with the Royal
Choral Society and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra many times.


Webster appeared in many other performances of Hiawatha, including one presented at Kenilworth Castle in  1952. I have included a few of the advertisements below:

Hiawatha at Kenilworth Castle 1952

Webster Booth appeared in the Jubilee concert of  Hiawatha to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the concert which was first presented in March 1900. 

 
May 1951. Croydon, Davis Theatre.
As part of the Festival of Britain celebrations a concert mainly devoted to the works of local composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was held in the Davis Theatre on 31 May 1951, part of a series of concerts sponsored by Croydon Corporation for the Festival. Parts One and Two of Hiawatha were presented by the Croydon Philharmonic Society, conducted by Alan J. Kirby. Gwen Catley, Webster Booth and Dennis Noble were the soloists. 
.
14 Ju

 

 
 
Although
the planned presentation of Hiawatha in 1954 was called off at the last
minute because of poor ticket sales, Sir Malcolm Sargent asked that
Webster should be the soloist in the work at his sixtieth birthday
concert on 29 April 1955 at the Royal Festival Hall, where his fellow
soloists were Jennifer Vyvian and Australian baritone John Cameron.
Perhaps because the performance was associated with Sir Malcolm’s
birthday, tickets were in great demand.
 
Here is a photograph from the defunct magazine, Music and Musicians where Webster and Anne are speaking to John Cameron after the performance.
 
His last performance in the work was at the Promenade Concert in August 1955, where he also sang the song cycle To Julia by Roger Quilter.
 

In July 1956 he and Anne Ziegler moved to Johannesburg South Africa. He never sang in another performance of this work.

Webster Booth recorded several songs by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor  below:

Onaway, Awake, Beloved!

Eleanore

Unmindful of the Roses/Life and Death

Jean Collen 2012 Updated May 2017

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HAROLD FIELDING CONCERTS

HAROLD FIELDING CONCERTS

Impresario, Harold Fielding.

In the summer of 1941, when many London theatres were closed, Jack Hylton, the popular dance band leader put on a week’s series of orchestral concerts at the London Coliseum, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. Despite constant bombing raids, 20,000 people attended these concerts. Top ranking musicians of the day were soloists with the orchestra, including pianists Eileen Joyce, Moura Lympany, Clifford Curzon, violinist Albert Sammons, violist Lionel Tertis, and singers Isobel Baillie, Eva Turner and Webster Booth himself. Interestingly he sang The Prize Song from The Mastersingers and Lohengrin’s Narration in a Wagner programme. During the First World War German music had been shunned in Britain, but apparently, this was not the case in the Second World War. Jack Hylton’s concert manager was the young former child-prodigy violinist, Harold Fielding. Harold Fielding’s career as a concert violinist was cut short in his early twenties because he began suffering memory lapses and stage fright. It was at this Wagner concert where Webster met Harold Fielding for the first time.

Pianist Sir Clifford Curzon (My favourite pianist)

Isobel Baillie (soprano)

Albert Sammons (violin)

Maryon Rawicz and Walter Landauer (duo pianists)
Mark Hambourg (pianist)
 














After this series of concerts ended Harold (aged 25) formed the National Philharmonic Orchestra, with Julian Clifford as the conductor. The orchestra toured the country for several years. Although this venture did not make any money  Harold was persistent in his endeavours to present good music to the British public. Because of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s great popularity at that time, he signed them up as guest artistes with the orchestra, along with pianist Mark Hambourg for a four-week tour of Britain in November and December of 1943. They performed in large concert halls and theatres, such as the Belle Vue, Manchester, The Usher Hall in Edinburgh, and the Alhambra, Glasgow. With Mark Hambourg,  Anne and Webster as guest artistes, the houses were always full. With this change in format Harold Fielding’s fortunes took a turn for the better. He decided to abandon orchestral concert tours in favour of vocal and instrumental ones. Anne and Webster, the duo pianists, Rawicz and Landauer who had been interned as enemy aliens on the Isle of Man earlier in the war, and violinist Albert Sandler, son of a poor Russian immigrant,  often took part in these concert tours. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Albert Sandler (violin)
 
The following year, on 20 May 1944 Harold Fielding presented a concert at the Royal Albert Hall:
 
 
Anne and Webster were booked for another tour by Harold Fielding at the beginning of 1946, but Webster was taken ill during a concert in the Town Hall, Sheffield. Despite losing his voice he journeyed on to Edinburgh where the next concert was to take place, but still had no voice and felt worse than ever. A doctor diagnosed bad ‘flu and ordered him to bed immediately. Rather than stay in bed in an Edinburgh hotel by himself he decided to return to London, while Anne continued with the tour on her own. In their joint autobiography, Duet, Anne mentioned that nobody in Dundee or Glasgow asked for their money back because of Webster’s absence, but a minority of people in Newcastle demanded a refund.
 Anne and Webster embarked on another concert tour for Harold Fielding from August to November of 1946, and this time Dublin was included in the concert itinerary. On Sunday, 13th October they sang in a celebrity concert at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue in aid of the General Jewish Hospital, Shaarezedek, The Ever-Open Door, Jerusalem, under the patronage of the Lady Louis Mountbatten. This concert had a large number of acts, ranging from Cheerful Charlie Chester, Issy Bonn and Anne Shelton to pianist Harriet Cohen and Anne and Webster. Tickets ranged in price from £3.3s to 5s. 

From 10 – 22 June 1946, Harold Fielding presented a series of six festival concerts at the Pavilion, Bournemouth and the Davis Theatre, Croydon. These concerts included conductors Dr Malcolm Sargent, Andre Kostelanetz with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Soloists were Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, Moura Lympany, Richard Tauber and the Russian pianist Poulshnoff.
Richard Tauber (Tenor)
 
 
This tour culminated in another concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 1 December.


 After a short break over Christmas the tour continued in 1947. This was the contract which Webster signed for dates in February 1947. Julius Darewski was their agent at the time:

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






In this contract, Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler agreed to appear for Harold Fielding’s management at :
 
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Wednesday,  February 4 at 7.30pm
Caird Hall, Dundee, Thursday, February 5 at 7.30pm
Kelvingrove Hall, Glasgow, Friday, February 6 evening
City Hall, Newcastle, Saturday, February 7 evening
City Hall, Sheffield, Wednesday February 18 evening
Town Hall, Huddersfield, Wednesday February 25 evening
 
The Management agrees to pay and the Artists agree to accept a fee for the above engagements of £90.0.0 per concert plus expenses of £120.0.0 for the three Scotch dates and £20.0.0 per concert for the other three dates.
 
The Artists agree to perform the group of not less than thirty minutes at each concert. Programme items to be mutually agreed with the Management.
 
It is understood and agreed that the Artists will not appear in these locations before the dates of the concerts herein contracted or in any adjoining town(s) within a radius of ten miles, or allow their names to be advertised for any subsequent appearance(s) in the towns concerned until they have performed the above concerts.
 
The Artists undertake to provide the services of their accompanist, Charles Forwood, without extra charge.
 
The Management undertakes to forward a copy of the running order in connection with these concerts for the approval of the Artists. If the Artists wish to request any alteration thereto, they undertake to do so within twenty-four hours after receipt of the said running order.
 
It is understood and agreed that the Management will provide three first-class tickets from London, or nearest point, to Dundee and return covering the three Scotch dates and Newcastle, together with three first-class tickets from London, or nearest point, to Sheffield and return, and three first-class tickets from London, or nearest point, to Huddersfield and return.
 
The fees for these engagements will be paid on the Friday following each concert.
 
Webster Booth (signed)
 
Apart from radio and variety work, it seemed as though the majority of engagements undertaken by Anne and Webster were for Harold Fielding at that time. They were due to go on an extended tour to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, but they managed to fit in a final Fielding concert at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh with the South African pianist Lionel Bowman and Australian bass baritone, Peter Dawson, who had returned to Britain from Australia after the war. 
They returned from their successful tour on their tenth wedding anniversary, 5 November 1948, and in December they were once again singing for Harold Fielding in Sandown on the Isle of Wight.
 
In 1950 Anne and Webster appeared at various places in a series of Sunday concerts for Harold Fielding. Towards the end of the year Reginald Tate Bickerstaffe, who had been Harold Fielding’s manager and was fondly known as Bicky, died. The funeral was held at Golders Green. Many artistes who had sung in many of Harold Fielding’s concerts attended the funeral, including Rawicz and Landauer, Anne and Webster, Julius Darewski (Anne and Webster’s agent), BC Hilliam (Flotsam, the surviving partner of the duo, Flotsam and Jetsam), Percy Kahn, a composer who had been accompanist to Richard Tauber who had sadly died of lung cancer early in 1948, soprano Gwen Catley and pianist, Lionel Bowman.
 
 
 
1951 was Festival of Britain year during which time Harold Fielding presented a series of celebrity concerts, called Music for the Millions. These concerts were held all over the country and were broadcast from July to September. On the bill for the first concert from Eastbourne were the Kordites, Max Wall and Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. By the fifties Harold was extending the artistes he used from musical performers to comedians and variety turns and many of his concerts were broadcast and in 1952 he presented Harold Fielding’s Festival of 

British Radio, starring Anne and Webster and others. Harold Fielding speaks about association

While Anne and Webster still appeared occasionally for Harold Fielding in the fifties, they were no longer constantly working for him. Harold Fielding, in turn, employed many more artists in the fifties than he had done in the forties. Richard Tauber and Albert Sandler had died. Webster was singing in a number of more serious concerts, often with Sir Malcolm Sargent as the conductor, and he and Anne went on an extended tour of Vivian Ellis’s musical play And So to Bed with Leslie Henson. They became joint presidents of the Concert Artistes Association in 1953 and remained in this position for several years. Anne returned to playing principal boys in Cinderella at Streatham Hill in 1953 and as Dick Whittington at the King’s Hammersmith in 1954.


Bibliography
Booth, W, Ziegler, A, Duet, Stanley Paul, London, 1951
Collen, J, A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the Lives of Webster Booth & Anne ZieglerDUETTIST’S STORE FRONT ON LULU, 2008



Jean Collen

June 2011
Updated May 2017
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BROADCASTS BY WEBSTER BOOTH (1946 – 1956)

 

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Webster did many broadcasts with Anne during this period and these will appear on a separate file. In 1948 the Booths did a concert tour to New Zealand and Australia, and did several broadcasts in South Africa while their ship travelled to various South African ports, so there are not many broadcasts listed for either of them in that year.

MUSIC IN MINIATURE – Light Programme, 23 May 1946 20.30

A musical entertainment, given by Webster Booth (tenor), Margaret Good (piano), Marie Wilson (violin), Jean Stewart (viola), William Pleeth (cello), Geoffrey Gilbert (flute), George Elliott (guitar). Music by J. C. Bach, Schumann, Rossini, Chopin, Richard Strauss, and Schubert.

FANTASIA – Light Programme, 7 October 1946 20.45 A musical feature with the BBC Theatre Orchestra and the BBC Theatre Chorus. This week – The Song of the Rivers with Ida Shepley (contralto) and Webster Booth (tenor). Narrator, Preston Lockwood. Conductor, Walter Goehr. Produced by Harold Neden.

MUSIC IN MINIATURE – BBC Home Service Basic, 12 November 1946 16.15 A musical entertainment given by Phyllis Sellick (piano). Webster Booth (tenor). Pauline Juler (clarinet), Max Salpeter and Colin Sauer (violins), Watson Forbes (viola), John Moore (cello), and J. Edward Merrett (double bass). Programme arranged by Basil Douglas.

TUESDAY SERENADE – BBC Home Service Basic, 19 November 1946 21.15 BBC Theatre Orchestra (Leader, Alfred Barker ) Conductor, Walter Goehr, BBC Theatre Chorus, Irene Eisinger (soprano), Webster Booth (tenor).

FANTASIA – Light Programme, 16 December 1946 20.45 A musical feature with the BBC Theatre Orchestra and Theatre Chorus, conducted by Harold Lowe. This week A Hundred Years Ago with Doris Gambell, Webster Booth, Winifred Davey. Jane Grahame, Doris Nichols. and Roy Plomley. Written by Aubrey Danvers-Walker. Produced by Harold Neden.

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TUESDAY SERENADE – BBC Home Service Basic, 11 February 1947 21.15 BBC Theatre Orchestra Conductor, Walter Goehr. BBC Theatre Chorus (Trained by John Clements ) Webster Booth (tenor), Joan and Valerie Trimble – (two pianos) Produced by Eric Fawcett.  

MUSIC IN MINIATURE – Light Programme, 7 August 1947 21.30 A musical entertainment given by Louis Kentner (piano), Webster Booth (tenor), Frederick Thurston and Stephen Waters (clarinets), Paul Draper (bassoon), David Martin (violin), Frederick Riddle (viola), and James Whitehead (cello). Programme arranged by Basil Douglas.

STARLIGHT – BBC Home Service Basic, 27 October 1947 19.15 This week Christopher Stone invites Webster Booth to talk with him and to sing for you.

THE KENTUCKY MINSTRELS – BBC Home Service Basic, 2 December 1947 21.30 A black-faced minstrel show – Jimmy Rich, Fred Yule, John Duncan, and C. Denier Warren and Ike Hatch (Ivory and Ebony). Guest Star, Webster Booth.  Kentucky Banjo Team, Augmented BBC Revue Orchestra and Male Voice Chorus, conducted by Leslie Woodgate. At the organ. Charles Smart. Book written and remembered by C. Denier Warren, Choral arrangements by Doris Arnold. Show devised and produced by Harry S. Pepper


Sir Malcolm Sargent.

THE PLAIN MAN’S GUIDE TO MUSIC-10 – Light Programme, 9 December 1949 21.00 Sir Malcolm Sargent talks about the Oratorio and conducts illustrations from Messiah (Handel), The Creation (Haydn), Elijah (Mendelssohn), Dream of Gerontius (Elgar). Elsie Morison (soprano), Mary Jarred (contralto), Webster Booth (tenor), Norman Walker (bass), Royal Choral Society, BBC Opera Orchestra, Produced by Roger Fiske.

Malcolm Sargent conducting the orchestra at a Promenade concert (1954)

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HUGH THE DROVER – Third Programme, 13 March 1950 20.40 or Love in the Stocks, A romantic ballad opera in two acts. Words by Harold Child, Music by Vaughan Williams. BBC Opera Chorus, BBC Opera Orchestra Led by John Sharpe. Conductor. Stanford Robinson. Presented by Mark Lubbock.  Narrator, Patrick Troughton. Repetiteur, Leo Wurmser.

The constable: Owen Brannigan

Mary, the constable’s daughter: Joyce Gartside, Aunt Jane. the constable’s sister: Mary Jarred, John, the butcher: Frederick Sharp, The turnkey: Powell Lloyd, A showman: Fabian Smith, A sergeant: Denis Dowling, Hugh, the Drover: Webster Booth, A cheap-jack: George Steam Scott, A shell-fish seller: Fisher Morgan, A primrose seller: Ethel Gedge, A ballad seller: David Holman.

 RING UP THE CURTAIN! – BBC Home Service Basic, 1 July 1951 16.00 Joyce Gartside (soprano), Webster Booth (tenor), Denis Dowling (baritone) BBC Opera Chorus – Trained by Alan G. Melville, BBC Opera Orchestra – Leader, John Sharpe. Conductor, Stanford Robinson. British Opera – The programme includes items from: The Siege of Rochelle, The Bohemian Girl, Maritana, The Lily of Killarney, Esmeralda, Ivanhoe, Shamus O’Brien,Koanga, The Immortal Hour, Fete Galante, Hugh the Drover, Sir John in Love. Programme devised by Harold Neden.

O, Vision Entrancing from Esmeralda

MUSIC IN MINIATURELight Programme, 28 July 1950 21.30 A musical entertainment given by Webster Booth (tenor), Leon Goossens (oboe),*Julius Isserlis (piano), Alan Loveday (violin), Reginald Morley (violin), Max Gilbert (viola),Harvey Phillips (cello). Ernest Lush (accompanist). Arranged by Basil Douglas.

 *I wonder if Julius Isserlis was the father of the well-known cellist, Steven Isserlis?

THESE RADIO TIMES – Light Programme, 27 October 1951 21.15 A happy history of Everyman’s entertainment. With Henry Hall, Naunton Wayne, Edwin Styles, Howard Marshall, Webster Booth, Claude Dampier, Kenneth Leslie-Smith, Harry S. Pepper and the recorded voices of Davy Burnaby, Stewart MacPherson, John. Snagge, Richard Tauber, Gracie Fields. Nellie Wallace. Everyman, with the wireless set: Anthony Armstrong. Written by Gale Pednick. Producer: Thurstan. Holland

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24 May 1952 Light Programme. Malcolm Sargent conducts the BBC Opera Orchestra with Webster Booth in a concert of Empire music for Empire Day.

SONG OF TWO CITIES – Light Programme, 18 November 1952 21.00 Paris and Vienna – Part 8 This story of a musical rivalry that spanned a century ends with music from two masterpieces Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, the idol of Vienna, and The Tales of Hoffmann with which Offenbach triumphed in Paris even after his death.

Gwen Catley, Ruth Packer, Anna Pollak, Webster Booth, Trefor Jones, Roderick Jones. BBC Chorus – Chorus-Master, Leslie Woodgate. BBC Concert Orchestra – Leader, John Sharpe. Conductor, Gilbert Vinter with Keith Pyott as the Voice of Paris and Rudolph Offenbach as the Voice of Vienna. Devised by Kenneth Pakeman and written by Maurice Gorham. Produced by Malcolm Baker-Smith and Kenneth Pakeman. (Anna Pollak broadcasts by permission of the Governors of Sadler’s Wells)

Haydn – THE CREATION – Third Programme, 4 December 1952 20.05 Ena Mitchell (soprano), Webster Booth (tenor), Norman Walker (bass), BBC Chorus – Chorus-Master, Leslie Woodgate. BBC Symphony Orchestra – Leader, Paul Beard. Conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent. Parts 1 and 2

MUSIC OF COLERIDGE-TAYLOR – BBC Home Service Basic, 7 December 1952 16.00  Webster Booth (tenor), BBC Concert Orchestra – (Leader, John Sharpe ) Conductor, Gilbert Vinter. Suite: Othello, Song: Eleanore, Three Dream Dances, Song: Onaway!, awake, beloved (Hiawatha)

The story of GILBERT AND SULLIVANLight Programme, 25 December 1952 16.30 An adaptation from the sound-track of the forthcoming Frank Launder-Sidney Gilliat production based on some episodes in the lives of Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert .Written for the screen by Sidney Gilliat and Leslie Baily (by permission of Bridget D’Oyly Carte ) Webster Booth, Martyn Green, Elsie Morison, Margery Thomas, John Cameron, Gordon Clinton, Owen Brannigan, Harold Williams, Tom Round, Muriel Brunskill, Jennifer Vyvyan, Joan Gillingham. London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. Programme produced by Thurstan Holland.

W S Gilbert: Robert Morley, Mrs Gilbert: Isabel Dean, Arthur Sullivan: Maurice Evans, Richard D’Oyly Carte: Peter Finch, Helen D’Oyly Carte: Eileen Herlie, Mr Marston: Wilfred: Hyde White, Grace Marston: Dinah Sheridan.

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THE GOLDEN THRESHOLD –  BBC Home Service Basic, 18 January 1953 16.00 by Liza Lehmann. Elsie Morison (soprano), Audrey Brice (contralto), Webster Booth (tenor), Frederick Harvey (baritone) BBC Chorus – Chorus-Master, Leslie Woodgate, BBC Concert Orchestra – Leader, John Sharpe, Conductor, Gilbert Vinter.  

*DESERT ISLAND DISCS – BBC Home Service Basic, 3 April 1953 18.25 Webster Booth – (in a recorded programme) discusses with Roy Plomley the gramophone records he would choose to have with him if he were condemned to spend the rest of his life on a desert island.

*Unfortunately no recording of this broadcast still exists, but we did manage to obtain a script of the programme from the BBC.

 29 April 1953 THE CREATION Royal Choral Society, Webster Booth (tenor) Conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. Malcolm Sargent’s birthday (from Webster’s score.)

Monday, 25 May 1953, 12.00 Robert Morley, Maurice Evans and Eileen Herlie in the story of GILBERT AND SULLIVAN (repeat)

An adaptation from the sound-track of the new Frank Launder -Sidney Gilliat production, based on some episodes in the lives of Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert , Written for the screen by Sidney Gilliat and Leslie Baily, (by permission of Bridget D’Oyly Carte) with words and music selected from the operas of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan sung by Webster Booth,. Martyn Green, Elsie Morison , Marjorie Thomas, John Cameron, Gordon Clinton, Owen Brannigan, Harold Williams, Tom Round,  Muriel Brunskill, Jennifer Vyvyan. Joan Gillingham, London Symphony Orchestra, Conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. Radio adaptation by Gordon Gow, Produced by Denys Jones.

NIGHTS OF GLADNESS – Light Programme, 22 December 1953 20.00 Tribute to composers whose melodies have enriched the world of operetta, musical comedy, and revue.Written by Gale Pedrick. Introduced by The Man with the Opera Cloak and illustrated by scenes and music Chapter 9 – The music of: Nat D. Ayer, Harry Parr Davies, Emmerich Kalman. Singers: Victoria Elliott, Webster Booth, Joan Young, Dudley Rolph, Billie Baker, Dick James. BBC Chorus – Chorus-Master, Leslie Woodgate. BBC Concert orchestra Conducted by Guy Daines. Musical adviser, Harold Neden. Produced by Douglas Moodie.

18 December 1953. 21.15 The Christmas Music from Handel’s Messiah Handel Messiah: part 1 (up to & including Glory to God) plus Hallelujah and  Amen choruses from the Town Hall, HUDDERSFIELD.

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 3 January 1954 18.30 I KNOW WHAT I LIKE, Personalities of the radio and entertainment world 
introduce music of their own choice. 15—Fred Streeter with Doris Gambell (soprano)
Webster Booth (tenor),  Ian Wallace (bass), BBC Concert Orchestra, (Leader, John Sharpe), 
Conducted by Stanford Robinson. Produced by Harold Neden.

I KNOW WHAT I LIKE – BBC Home Service Basic, 31 January 1954 18.30, Personalities of the radio and entertainment world introduce music of their own choice. 19-James Dyrenforth with Lorely Dyer (soprano), Webster Booth (tenor). BBC Concert Orchestra – Leader, John Sharpe. Conducted by Rae Jenkins. Produced by Harold Neden.

GRAND HOTEL – Light Programme, 11 April 1954 19.30, Tom Jenkins and the Palm Court Orchestra. Webster Booth (tenor).

HENRY WOOD PROMENADE CONCERTS – BBC Home Service Basic, 1 September 1954 19.30 Webster Booth (tenor), Iris Loveridge (piano), Royal Choral Society, BBC Symphony Orchestra  – Leader, Paul Beard, Conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent. From the Royal Albert Hall, London.

BALLAD CONCERT – BBC Home Service Basic, 21 September 1954 18.45 The old songs we still love sung by Marion Lowe (soprano), Webster Booth (tenor), Raymond Newell (baritone), with David McCallum and the Spa Orchestra. At the organ, Felton Rapley. At the piano, Clifton Helliwell.

The programme includes: Thora, Where my caravan has rested, I hear you calling me, The Company Sergeant Major, A Summer Night. Produced by Harold Neden.

BALLAD CONCERT – BBC Home Service Basic, 21 December 1954 18.35 The old songs we still love, sung by Gwen Catley (soprano), Audrey Brice (contralto), Webster Booth (tenor), Owen Brannigan (bass-baritone), David McCallum and the Spa Orchestra. At the organ. Felton Rapley. At the piano, Josephine Lee.

Gwen Catley, the diminutive coloratura soprano.

The programme includes Twickenham Ferry,  An Old Garden,The Star of Bethlehem, Until, Japanese Love Song, A Sergeant of the Line, April Morn, Nazareth. Introduced by Lionel Marson. Produced by Harold Neden.

 IN LIGHTER MOOD – BBC Home Service Basic, 27 December 1954 15.15 BBC Concert Orchestra -Leader, John Sharpe, Conductor, Charles Mackerras. Webster Booth (tenor) Programme presented by John Tylee.

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April 1955 John Stainer THE CRUCIFIXION A meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer. Webster Booth, John Heddle Nash.

Sir Malcolm Sargent introduces and conducts a GILBERT AND SULLIVAN CONCERT – BBC Television, 30 May 1955 21.15 with Jacqueline Delman (soprano) Marjorie Thomas (contralto) Webster Booth (tenor), John Cameron (bass) and Chorus. The St. Cecilia Orchestra (Leader, Lionel Bentley ) Presented by Philip Bate.

 HENRY WOOD PROMENADE CONCERTSLight Programme, 13 August 1955 19.30  Webster Booth (tenor), Peter Katin (piano) BBC Choral Society – Chorus Master. Leslie Woodgate Royal Choral Society, BBC Symphony Orchestra – Leader, Paul Beard, Conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent. From the Royal Albert Hall , London

Part 1. 

 

GRAND HOTEL – Light Programme, 16 October 1955 21.00 Jean Pougnet and the Palm Court Orchestra. Visiting artist: Webster Booth. 

21 December 1955 7.15 pm Handel’s MESSIAH Part 1  from the Town Hall, HUDDERSFIELD Part 1 at 7.15 : Part 2 at 9.15.

22 December 1955 21.00 The Christmas Music from Handel’s Messiah Conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano), Norma Procter (contralto), Webster Booth (tenor), Hervey Alan (bass), Huddersfield Choral Society (Chorus-Master, Herbert Bardgett), BBC Northern Orchestra, (Leader. Reginald Stead), Ernest Cooper (organ), from the Town Hall, Huddersfield.

GILBERT AND SULLIVAN – BBC Home Service Basic, 25 December 1955 21.15 Hugh Burden, Clive Morton and Richard Humdall. The story of a great partnership in six episodes by Leslie Baily  – 4— The First Quarrel. Other parts played by: Eric Phillips, Olwen Brookes, George Skillan, Ysanne Churchman; and Betty Fleetwood. Narrator, Hugh Burden. The songs from the operas sung by: Webster Booth, Gwen Catley, Victoria Elliott, Arnold Matters, George James, Janet Howe, Denis Bowen , Gilbert Wright. Pianist. Alan Richardson, BBC Chorus – Chorus-Master, Leslie Woodgate. BBC Concert Orchestra – Leader, John Sharpe, Conductor, Charles Mackerras. Production by Vernon Harris.

(The BBC acknowledges the assistance of Miss Bridget D’Oyly Carte and of Sir Newman Flower , the biographer of Sir Arthur Sullivan.

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8 January 1956 21.15 Hugh Burden, Clive Morton and Richard Hurndall in GILBERT AND SULLIVAN The story of a great partnership in six episodes by Leslie Baily. 6: Yeomen, Gondoliers and Goodbye. Other parts played by: Betty Hardy, Dudley Rolph , Ella Milne, Eric Phillips , Humphrey Morton, Narrator, Hugh Burden.The songs from the operas sung by: Webster Booth. Doris Gambell, Anna Pollak, Roderick Jones, George James. Sheila Rex, Gilbert Wright. Pianist: Alan Richardson. BBC Chorus (Chorus-Master, Leslie Woodgate ), BBC Concert Orchestra (Leader, John Sharpe ). Conductor. Charles Mackerras. Production by Vernon Harris.

 That was the last solo broadcast Webster Booth did in the UK, but he did several more with Anne Ziegler before they sailed for South Africa on board the Pretoria Castle in mid-July, 1956.

 

Compiled by Jean Collen

May 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Compiled by Jean Collen

2017.