EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – OCTOBER 1961

2 October – Start working in Barclays Bank, Simmonds Street. It is not as bad as I had expected. Am put in cables department where I do a little typing. Girl, Marty teaches me what I have to do. My boss is an elderly silent type, Mr Peddie, and his underling is an elderly jovial type, Mr Ford.

At night I get mummy to phone Webster about a reference. He answers and mummy explains that she hopes he will be a referee for me. He says he knows all about it – he had a form to fill in a few weeks ago – how long he had known me etc. He hasn’t a clue where he sent the form back to but he did send it. Mummy thanks him very much and he says, “She needn’t worry: I said she didn’t back horses or gamble!” He says he’ll give me a written reference if necessary. It’s funny that he didn’t mention it to me.

Mr Russell also filled in a form and gave them all the low-down about me, and will give me a reference on Thursday.

3 October – Work and make a half-hearted attempt to practise both morning and evening.

4 October – Work a half day and go to music in afternoon. Mrs S works me hard but she is very sweet and I like her. Go and play table tennis at night.

5 October – Work. We talk about singing and Martie says she loves to sing.

After work I go to the studio. Webster answers the door. I listen to Nellie (who is about 40) singing the Liddle setting of Abide With Me. Her voice isn’t bad but she’ll never be an opera star. Webster goes to put money in the meter and I go in and pay Anne. I tell her that I appreciate Webster filling in that form for the bank and she says that it was a pleasure. I say that they need a written testimonial as well and she says he will also give me one. He’ll type it out at home and post it to me tomorrow. Anne says she knows somebody in Kensington – Heather McDonald-Rouse’s mother. Do I know her? Yes, I know her well. She is delighted!

We do some scales after tea which don’t go very well at first but improve as I go higher. She says my range is developing beautifully, especially my high notes.

We start on the Noel Coward medley and Anne says that I must cover my ee vowels and sing forward. She says that of course it’s very pop and common, then she stops and says reflectively, “I shouldn’t call it that when we made so much money on that type of music.” I say that I like it very much and I love listening to their recordings of it. She says, “Oh, sweet!” and turns red.

They sing Dearest Love together and I just keep quiet. They sing so beautifully that I want to cry. I clench my teeth together so that I don’t cry! On Let’s Say Goodbye they find the music (and words) rather nauseating. Anne says Noel Coward probably wrote it after a hectic night out in the Bahamas. She says he is described by Eric Blum in the Actors’ Who’s Who? As an actor, playwright and AMATEUR musician!

Webster discovers that the sink in the kitchenette is blocked and the water is seeping through to the seventh floor. He phones up about it and when nothing is done he gets into a rage and says if they don’t do something soon the water will seep through and the people on the seventh floor have just had their walls redecorated. He says violently, “Bloody fools!” First time I’ve heard him that violent. After this interlude we pass on to Hark, Hark which Anne says we must concentrate on very hard next week.

Depart, leaving them fussing over the blocked sink.

Go to choir at night.

Listen and record Webster’ programme. He starts with a sacred record by himself which is beautiful, then more from The Dream, Pagliacci and then two duets from Lilac Time by themselves.

6 October – Work, but not terribly hard. Martie and I talk for hours and I manage to transpose I’ll Follow My Secret Heart – it goes well.

7 October – Work harder today. Webster’s reference is there. It is very nice.

It was sweet of him to write it and it touched me to read it! He is such a famous and busy man and yet he took time to write me a reference. Mr Russell gave me a very long eloquent reference but somehow I shall always treasure Webster’s halting one which he typed himself and signed with a flourish.

9 October– Back to work. Quite a pleasant day.

10 October – Public holiday. In the afternoon Dad and I go to see Hand in Hand at the Monte Carlo. See the Booths’ green Zephyr when we come home.

11 October – Work hard and go to music in the afternoon. Mrs S says I am doing good work. I go to ordination service at night – very impressive.

12 October – Work hard and have lunch with Mum. Go to Webster and Anne in the afternoon. Webster answers the door and says, “Isn’t the heat dreadful?” I agree wholeheartedly. Nellie is singing quite nicely today and she gives me a big grin when she leaves. Anne comes in and we complain about the rather ghastly hot weather and then the very cold winter. She says that when she first moved into the house in Craighall Park she needed 4 blankets, a hot water bottle and an electric blanket and thinks the winters here are worse than they are in the UK.

We start with scales and they go well. When Webster comes in I thank him for my reference and he says, “Oh, was it all right? I told some fine lies, didn’t I?” We all have a good laugh.

Anne tells him to make some tea because “Jean is dead.” Says Webster, “That makes two of us.” He goes in and upsets the kettle on the table. Anne turns white and rushes in to see what is wrong. She comes back and says, “What frights that man gives me!”

We go on to the Noel Coward medley and she is delighted with the transposition of I’ll Follow My Secret Heart. It all goes quite well. She tells me that she sang the song in panto after she’d fought the dragon, and won the lady in Puss in Boots in East London. She sings Dearest Love by herself and it sounds really gorgeous. She explains that I must push the time forward and then pull it back in songs of this kind. We go through them and she marks the pauses. She says that good songs sing themselves but Noel Coward’s songs need showmanship and selling otherwise they would sound corny.

Webster says that my voice sounds beautiful and in a few years it’ll be really gorgeous. He says that my “e” vowels have improved tremendously, and I say that I’ve been practising hard! He says, “Yes, I can tell that!”

Anne asks when I get time to practise and I tell her of piano practice in the morning and singing in the evening. She says that if you are tired, the voice is the first thing to go because it is so much part of you.

When we finish – miles over time – she tells me that she has to appear in court tomorrow at 9.00 am. Evidently she bought a sewing machine from someone in Forsdsburg and traded in her old one. The man ran off with her old one and she refused to pay the full price so she now has a court order against her. She says she’ll probably be there all day so “Maestro” will have to hold the fort in the studio. I say goodbye and wish her luck in tomorrow’s case.

Webster’s programme is gorgeous as usual. He plays the prelude to Missa Solemnis by Beethoven and a Jewish chant. Then he plays his own recording of Just For Today, with Gerald Moore accompanying.

His opera is Turandot and then two duets from The New Moon “sung by Anne and myself,” Wanting You and Lover, Come Back to Me.

13 October (Friday!) Have damnably gruelling day at work and then go to guild where I play in front of about 300 people for hymns at the Youth Rally where they have a Methodist cavalcade play which is very good. Dr Webb comes to the event and receives a wonderful ovation.

14 October – Practise and at night we go to Spargos. Ann Stratton is there too, so Joan, Ann and I go to see a group of one-act plays at the boys’ school. Cecil Williams (the communistically-inclined producer) adjudicates and talks for an hour – brilliant and witty. Kudu House wins on a play held last night. We come home with Peter Spargo. It is about 1 in the morning now!

19 October – Go to Webster and Anne after work. Nellie is singing O Love, From Thy Power badly. When she gets to the high note Anne says that she changed it on “Jean’s copy” so they change it on her copy too.

I go in and we talk about the horrible weather and she asks if I’ve seen any good plays lately. For want of something to say I talk about the plays at the boys’ school and Cecil Williams. She is not at all keen on him. She makes tea and tells me that her brother was ten years older than her, and her sister twelve and a half years older so she was almost like an only child in another generation.

We start on scales and she says I must control my breath more and not move my “bos”. We toddle over to the mirror and she demonstrates her fantastic breathing once more. Webster comes in and says, “If you don’t smile I won’t give you a cup of tea!” I smile!

I say I hate singing in front of my father because he criticises me so much. Anne says it’s fatal to sing in front of someone – she won’t even sing in front of Webster. She says Roselle’s father has a down on her voice and made her give up singing to concentrate on the piano for a year. Webster says, “I think he’s Afrikaans though, isn’t he?” That dismisses him!

We do Rest in the Lord and it doesn’t go too badly. Anne says I must watch diction and not sing in my throat. I must keep my voice forward in the mask and always feel it in the head – easier said than done.

Webster says I must sing everything to “mee” until I get proper resonance. He says that he’ll be playing the aria in the third week of November on his programme, sung by Norma Procter. I ask whether his programme is on tonight and he says, “No. These damned election results have put a stop to it. If only it had been Wednesday for the results and not today.”

20 October Work is fairly quiet today. I don’t practise singing today and feel a little down-hearted.

21 October – Work till 11.30 this morning. I practise in the afternoon and singing improves a bit. We’re going to convert the second bedroom into a studio so that I can have peace to practise.

22 October – Piano is now in its new position in the second bedroom.

Little Sunday School boys are better today. Molly Reinhardt says in her column that Webster is going to Durban with The Amorous Prawn. I hope Anne stays at home. What would I do if I didn’t see either of them for months on end?

Inge Alexander visits in the afternoon so we have rather an unmusical time.

25 October – Work very hard. Go to music in the afternoon and Mrs S works me hard too. She is, nevertheless, very sweet, but I will have to work very hard for the forthcoming piano exam.

Go to anniversary practice at night.

26 October – Work very hard – it’s like a sweat-shop! I do get my first wages though. I have lunch with mum and buy square-toed shoes.

At night I go to singing. Webster answers the door dressed in a short-sleeved shirt. I say hello and sigh and he says, “Yes, it’s that kind of day, isn’t it?”

Nellie is singing “my” Delilah aria very badly indeed. She complains that sometimes she feels she can’t sing at all – That’s just how I feel sometimes too! When she goes, Anne says, “Well, the next victim can come into the hothouse!”

Webster goes down with Nellie to put money in the meter and I go in and unburden my worries and grievances to Anne. She is the ideally sympathetic audience.

We start on scales and they go very well today. Webster says I must sing the high ones twice as quickly as I’m doing at the moment. He goes off to make tea and comes back looking rather aggrieved telling her that his finger has burst again. Evidently he had a very bad burn and now has a big blister.

She marks my vowels in Rest in the Lord – not as good as I did them last night at the anniversary practice. I sing the song and he says it’s very good apart from the “ee” vowels. We do one particular part with all ee vowels and it goes a little better. We do He Shall Feed His Flock and they are thrilled with the improvement – thank goodness, as that was what I sang as a solo in church. We do O Love From Thy Power to fill in time as the next chap doesn’t arrive. Anne says she doesn’t like to talk about other pupils to me but Nellie drags this aria out too much and will never sing it properly. She’s Afrikaans of course and rather slow. Anne says she herself trained in her teens as a mezzo in her teens .

When I ask her whether she’s going to Durban for a month she says, ”God, no! I’m just going for one Thursday because there are five Thursdays in November.”

Webster adds, “Someone has to earn the money, Jean!”

` I say goodbye and depart feeling remarkable invigorated by the lesson. When I went up I was exhausted but when I left I was a new being.

Listen to Webster at night. There was a storm so the reception was grim. He plays the Alto Rhapsody sung by Kathleen Ferrier, Where E’er You Walk (by himself) He also plays the duet from Barber of Seville sung by himself and Dennis Noble. He finishes with Eldorado.

27 October – Work – not quite as busy today but bad enough. Practise in a mediocre fashion at night.

28 October – Work in the morning and thank God to say goodbye to the bank for a day and a half. I meet Mum and we have a shopping spree – 3 dresses and a petticoat. We have lunch then meet Dad and see The Hustlers – a rather revolting picture with Paul Newman as the star.

29 October – It’s pouring this morning. Hope it stops for the anniversary. It does. Sing for about 3 hours in all. It goes very well. Have tea at Betty’s in the afternoon and tea at the manse at night.

31 October – Work hard. I get a lovely surprise in the paper at night – Anne posing as Mrs Siddons from the original Gainsborough painting. It is the most gorgeous photo I have ever seen of her.

Anne as Mrs Siddons

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES – MAY 1961

21 Juno Street, Kensington – our house at that time.

1 May – Picture of Anne in RDM at first night of the opera La Traviata. She looks quite gorgeous and not nearly 51! The two women with her are Mrs Bosman de Kok (husband is SABC musical director) and the pianist Adelaide Newman. They are probably far younger than Anne but she looks by far the best.

Anne at La Traviata with Mrs Bosman de Kock and Adelaide Newman

Song by Webster on radio If With All Your Hearts from Elijah. Beautiful song, lovely diction and wonderfully restrained.

2 May – College. Marion Levine gives an interesting talk about communism.

Go to studio once more. Webster answers door and takes me into the sacred presence who is very affable and I pay her. She asks if I can come next Monday because they’re arranging the programme for the ballet and have to be at the theatre at 7 o’clock every night, so can I come at 4 on Monday. She feels so embarrassed having to change me around all the time.

Webster brings me a cup of tea which I really need, and then we start on the lesson. Webster is very authoritative, and after singing scales he says I get down so low I should be a contralto. Anne retaliates and says (once again) that I’m a very high mezzo. “You mustn’t forget that high B!” Webster is stubborn and I don’t have any say in the matter at all. I sing “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose…” and Webster sits facing me and criticises me. I must be more resonant on the low b and we practise this for ages. Webster gets up and gives a beautiful demonstration. Anne sings too – quite nasally – probably owing to the lowness of the note. As she says, it’s miles too low for her.

Webster then makes me sing from MessiahHe Shall Feed His Flock. Asks whether I can sight-read music. I say I can only do that on the piano and Anne says that it is exactly the same with her. She learnt to play the piano when she was six and could never sing at sight, but Webster is wonderful at that because he was trained to do it as a choir boy.  However, I sing this to accompaniment without hearing the tune and it is reasonable. Find the jump from high C to low C difficult and Webster is quite hurt because of his belief in my contralto abilities.

He says of one particular note, “If you could get all your notes like that one you would be a singer out of this world, Jean.”

One teeny-weeny compliment opposed to a thousand retributions. At one stage of the proceedings, he gets up from the chair and can hardly walk. He looks really agonised and I feel sorry him. It must be arthritis or some such ailment. Poor old Webster.

Take departure – all very affable. Must look over Ave Maria for next week. Anne says of noise, “God, just shut up for heaven’s sake.” Her nerves are sorely tried – shame. She wears a lovely tweed suit with brown jersey and little furry collar and looks lovely, but she would never do to be anybody’s mother because she doesn’t look half her age and she’d steal her daughter’s boyfriends. But she is a honey all the same.

3 May – College during the day and then we go to the opera at night. What can I say of opera? Mimi Coertse has a voice like a bell. With what seems like little effort she sends out notes that ripple and thrill. She plays her part well with great feeling and her high notes are really excellent.

Bob Borowsky as her baritone father is the only other cast member who sings really well but he lacks expression and tends to be lugubrious. The chorus, in my opinion, is bad. The tenor was sweet at times but his voice grew very throaty towards the end.

4 May – College. We go to lunch hour concert. The soloist is young pianist, Yonti Solomon who is really brilliant. He plays a Schumann concerto with Edgar Cree conducting.

At the moment I’m lying in bed waiting for Webster’s programme. Introduces it with the usual, “Hello everyone,” in honeyed accents. First he plays the Jennifer Vyvyan recording of Rejoice Greatly conducted by Sir Thomas B and says, “Here it is, so hold yer breath!”

Next he talks about the opera and how nice it was and plays an aria from Rigoletto sung by Mimi Coertse and George Fourie. He then plays record by instrumentalists including Maxie Goldberg. “What a name to say with a cold in the nose!” says Webster! Next the Fledermaus with the Melachrino strings and then he reverts back to oratorio.  He talks about Kathleen Ferrier who lived opposite them in their home in Frognal and who used to entertain them with Lancashire stories. During her long illness, they used to visit her often. He plays her recording of Father of Heav’n and I lie in bed and cry during the whole recording. Her voice is beautiful and rich. No wonder she was considered the greatest contralto in the world. From her letters in her biography she seemed a lovely, adorable creature, one I would have loved to have known but never shall. It is so sad that she died at such an early age.

He then plays his own recording of Sound an Alarm also from Judas Maccabeus and it is excellent.  He introduces the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore and says that Gilbert made a great parody of this and sings a snatch of it from Pirates of PenzanceCome Friends, Who Plough the Sea…  His last recording is the overture to the Pirates and then goodbye for another week.

6 May – We see Elmer Gantry in the afternoon. Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons. Best picture I’ve seen for ages, adapted from the book by Sinclair Lewis – shades of Miss Scott who told us all about Sinclair Lewis.

7 May Go to Diamonds in the afternoon. They play records – tenors, tenors, tenors – mainly Kenneth McKellar – obviously their favoroute!

8 May College again. Shorthand and typing are blooming dull.

I am transported in the afternoon when I go for singing lesson. Webster answers the door and shows me into the kitchen. Anne is on the phone talking to a girl, Mary about her lessons. Webster goes into the studio and informs her of my arrival. She greets me and then disappears once more, has an argument with Webster about the credit note he got from the bottle store for 8 dozen bottles at 3d each – I ask you! I think Anne realises that I am actually there and innocent to the horrors of the bottle store, so while Webster has a late lunch, Anne makes a second entrance and says, “Well, my little one, and how are you and what are you doing with yourself these days?”

I say I’m still at college which sounds infernally dull. She asks what I thought about the opera. I say that I adored Mimi but wasn’t too fond of the French tenor. Anne says, “He’s only a baby of 23 so the two roles were a bit much for him.” Webster says that the role was far too heavy for him anyway. She says, “Weren’t the scenery and costumes terrible?” I didn’t actually think so, but what do I know?

The letters arrive and Anne is quite excited that they have been asked to do a concert tour to Witbank and various other towns in that area. I hope they don’t go! Anne says she wants to ask me a question and can’t wait to see my face, and insists that he sees it too. Would I like to enter the Afrikaans eisteddfod? I grimace wildly and Webster says, “Her profile was enough!” I don’t commit myself however and Anne says that I could enter the ballad section and sing The Lass with the Delicate Air. She says, “Get it anyway and you can see what you think. It’ll be good for you and get you moving.”

I do scales and Anne says I must look happy about them and takes me over to that damned mirror and makes me sing a scale happily. I can’t! She says, “Do it just for me, Jean, dear. I mean this quite sincerely.” Will try.

Webster makes tea for us and I say, “Thank you, Webster,” and Anne says, “Thank you – waiter!” Webster doesn’t look very happy about this. I sing Roslein and it is pulled to pieces again, mainly by Webster who says I show my teeth too much and says he can’t show his when he’s singing. He tries and succeeds in showing a horrible set of teeth altogether. No matter, we proceed and all goes better. At the end of the lesson my little “friend” Roselle arrives and we smile at one another when I leave. Anne asks if I’m going to the ballet and I say, “No.” Rather blunt but true – I loathe ballet anyway.

11 May – Sunday school picnic – walking, standing and working!  Listen to Webster at night. He starts with He Shall Feed His Flock by Norma Procter, a contralto with whom he sang a few years ago and thinks could be a worthy successor to Kathleen Ferrier. He plays a record by Roy Henderson who trained both Kathleen Ferrier and Norma Procter and was chorus master of the Huddersfield Choral Society. He says he has a sweet small voice with perfect diction.

He talks about Mrs Fenney who stood in for Miss Heller at Jeppe for a term. “Anne and I had the pleasure of putting Mabel Fenney through to a scholarship to study lieder in Berlin and she and Anne worked very hard on the set piece by Bach.” He plays this piece sung by Margaret Balfour.

Mabel Fenney (1959)

He goes on to the opera Samson – the opera, and goes into all the gory details of the plot and says, “Nice people!” Plays an excerpt from the opera by Jan Peerce. Then comes music from Schubert’s Rosamunde and after that his own recording – excerpts from Carmen with himself, Dennis Noble, Nancy Evans and Noel Eadie – lovely.

14 May – Church. Dull and unimaginative with sermon by Mr R and ravings from Peter about Song Without End. Shorty gives Doreen and me a lift to her house where I have tea and we run down the camp concert committee and the Lombard family!  Play piano and sing. Dad has a cold and I’m heading in that direction too.

16 May Cold is still rotten so I am absent from college and any idea of going for singing lesson is curtailed.  About midday I phone in bleary-eyed fashion to Booth’s house. Woman answers the phone and I ask, “Is that Anne?”

She answers, “No, this is Anne’s maid.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Is Anne there?”

“No, they’re both at the studio. Do you know the number?”

“Yes, thanks. Goodbye.”

I must have spoken to Hilda, their St Helena maid. She sounds remarkably well-spoken.  Phone the studio and Anne answers.

“Is that Anne?”

“Yes!” in startled tones.

“This is Jean speaking.” (Vague affirmation)

“Anne, I’m terribly sorry but I have a horrible cold so I shan’t be able to come today.”

“Oh, Jean, I’m so sorry. Are you in bed?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know how I can make the lesson up to you” (Pause) “But there are five Tuesdays in this month.”

“Yes, that’s what I was thinking.”

“Then we’ll see you next week? I can hear you talking through a cold. I do hope you feel better soon.”

“Thank you – and I’m sorry, Anne.”

Pause “Yes, so am I! Goodbye, Jean”

Goodbye.”

Spend a miserable day.

17 May – Retire to bed permanently! Voice practically non-existent. Minister comes in the evening but I remain silent and still.

18 May – Still in bed.  Listen to Webster at night which is cheering. The first record (not obtainable here) was lent to him –  Requiem by Verdi, written after the death of Rossini. He says that he’ll play an extract each week. It contains arias sung by his favourite tenor (Jussi Bjorling?). He plays a choral piece – Sanctus.

The next record is from Elijah, Oh, Come Everyone That Thirsteth by a quartet – Isobel Baillie, Harold Williams, Gladys Ripley and James Johnston. What a wonderful recording. Next is an aria from the work by Webster with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Warwick Braithwaite – often cut from the oratorio. His voice is just perfect. There can hardly be another tenor in this century – and I do believe this – to touch his voice at its best!  Next is the overture to the Magic Flute, written by Mozart in “Viennar” – intrusive r terribly and wrongly distinct. He says that this was considered his best work.

He then plays an aria from the opera by Oscar Natzke… Then some more Mozart sung by “that versatile young singer”, Elisabeth Schwartzkopf.  He reverts to operetta – The Chocolate Soldier and says, “Anne and I have sung in The Chocolate Soldier many times. It is an adaptation of Shaw’s Arms and the Man, as My Fair Lady is an adaptation of Pygmalion but I do wonder whether we shall hear My Fair Lady fifty years hence as often as we hear the Chocolate Soldier now.  Plays the duet Sympathy with Risé Stevens and someone else. Then, says Webster, “Let’s play out with The Gypsy Baron. Very nice programme indeed. Webster has a slight wheeze tonight.

19 May – Still ill – until 22 May!

23 May –   Manage to go to college once more after a cold and go to the studio in the afternoon.  Anne ushers me into kitchen while they usher two old women – very old-maidish – out, while they chat brightly about the best radiograms to buy. Webster answers them in very indifferent tones. They depart, having thanked them too, too eloquently for sparing some of their valuable time. They call me in and Anne says, “God – we’ll need another cup of tea after that. Will you have one too, Jean?” “Yes, thank you, Anne.”

She says that the women took an awful lot out of her. She says I still sound very nasal after the cold. Convinces me that I am just about dying of illness! We start on scales and all goes reasonably well. Webster says I shall never need my very high or very low notes.

Anne tells me over tea that the tiny dilapidated cottage they bought two years ago and redecorated themselves needed fresh plaster above the curtain rails in the hall, so she spent the weekend on top of a ladder, scraping old plaster off, and as she was literally breathing plaster, she doesn’t know how she is managing to talk today. Webster says dryly, “It must be all the liquid refreshment you had while you were doing it.” Anne pauses and replies, “Oh, yes, I had plenty of tea, coffee, cocoa and – an occasional gin and tonic to go with it!” Another dramatic pause and then she asks, “Do you like gin, Jean?” I say that it’s not very nice. “Don’t you even like sherry?” “No.” “Do you smoke?” “No.” “Well don’t ever develop any of those bad habits.”

We go on with singing The Lass With the Delicate Air. Webster mimics all my mistakes mercilessly and makes me laugh. He says that my “delicate air” sounds like “delicatessen” – the height of insult!

We go on with the song and Anne says, “Watch the time,” and I think she had said, “What’s the time?” I say “Twenty past four!” She says, “That was well picked up!” I stare in confusion and she tells me what she had said and we have a good laugh. Finish with Roslein and Webster says I open my mouth too wide for low notes – a good fault – but it will take too much out of me to do it.

Anne asks if I can come next Monday instead of Tuesday as an uprising by natives before Republic Day is forecast. They have to go to Durban to give a concert on Wednesday and don’t know what they will do if there should be an uprising. That doesn’t strike me until I leave that Wednesday is Republic Day. I hope that they will be safe. Say goodbye (cheerio) effusively and see Roselle, whom I always feel is a far better singer than me.  Play piano, sing and listen to radio – Ivor Dennis and Douggie Laws at night.

25 May – College. Go with Jill and Audrey to the lunch hour concert. The soloist is Laura (someone) – a pianist of insignificant looks but with very significant playing!

At night I decide to go to choir practice at church. All make a pretence of being happy to see me. I sit next to Joan Spargo and make myself as insignificant as possible. Ann’s father, Mr Stratton is the choir leader. He certainly has a resounding voice and mimics everyone’s musical and vocal faults aptly.

Come home and listen to Webster on wireless. He starts off with Dies Irae (from that rare recording of last week with chorus and bass (George Tsotsi) with Vienna Philharmonic. “It’s a bit noisy, so I suggest you close the children’s bedroom door!”

Webster plays his own record – a Recitative from Jephtha which is quite gorgeous – every word as clear as day. He goes into some detail about the finale of Samson and Delilah which, says Webster, is “very awer inspiring!” The singers are Rise Stevens, Robert Merrill and Jan Peerce.

He plays a record by Dawie Couzyn from Magic Flute and says that he thought this production was better than Don Pasquale. DC sings it in Afrikaans with horrible diction and a clicky quality to his voice. Not terribly enjoyable.  Webster plays complete selection from The Desert Song which Springs Operatic is doing soon, sung by Gordon McRae and Lucille Norman. He says, “Shades of my old friends, Harry Welchman and Edith Day.”

He ends with the overture to Ruddigore – about a witch who forced a family to commit a crime a day – Nice folk! And then, goodbye and so to bed.

26 May College – we have a party for Terry French who is going overseas soon.

27 May – Go into town in the morning and am stopped by terribly handsome young German student who was selling postcards. I buy one, of course!  Go to Kelly’s and buy Where E’er You Walk by Handel, a most gorgeous song!

Have lunch in Capinero with Mum and Dad and then we go to the Empire. In the powder room I meet Pat Eastwood looking terribly smart with bouffant hairdo and also a bit fatter. She is most affable and says, “I haven’t seen you for ages. When are you coming to the rink?”

I say, “Oh, yes, I must come soon…” How lovely to talk so casually to the South African figure skating champion and Springbok.

We see The Great Imposter with Tony Curtis – very good.

28 May In Gary Allighan’s radio crit this morning, he says, “Praise be to Webster Booth, whose On Wings of Song combines familiar music with personal reminiscences, although he should not be so modestly sparse with his own songs.”  Shot for good old GA! He’s a man after my own heart – politically and artistically.

Gary Allighan

Anne phones just afterwards and greets father with, “Mr Campbell, this is Anne Ziegler here. Can I speak to Jean please. I am called to the phone and informed by Anne, after she asks how I am, that she’d like me to come at 4.30 instead of at 4. Would this be convenient? “Certainly.” “Are you sure?”….Sing in choir at church at night. All convivial.

29 May – First day of strike evidently a flop as there are no strikers to be seen.  I go to the studio in the afternoon and Webster asks me to have a seat for a while and pour myself some tea. I do this and drink tea feeling terrible blasé, and wash the cup afterwards. He plays over tape recording which is rather funny. I giggle to myself.

Anne comes from nowhere and is charming. She tells me to go in and she’ll be with me in a few moments. I look closely at pictures of the royal family at their performance – King George, Queen Mother and the princesses.  Webster talks to me about the strike and says that RCA have no workers but Decca have all their workers. He says the town is nice and quiet with not so many people around. We talk about the success of receiving papers and milk and Webster says direfully, “Tonight will be the crucial deciding time. Just as long as they don’t come out and kill us is all I hope for.” Cheery attitude to life this!

Anne returns and we start with scales and they are thrilled at the new quality of my voice and ask what I’ve been doing to bring about the improvement. I sing Roslein to them and they continue to be quite happy about it all – 2 hours practice a day must help. Feel quite embarrassed.

Webster makes me sing He Shall Feed His Flock for all the low notes and sings this along with me – gorgeous! During Lass With the Delicate Air there are many faults. I crack on middle C on “fill” and Webster makes me do it over and over again and takes me over to the mirror to show me how to produce it correctly. When I sing it again he suddenly doubles up on the piano with a look of agony on his face. Anne looks horrified and says, “What’s the matter?” He doesn’t speak for a moment and then says, “Nothing. I just wanted to listen to Jean sing.” Do not for a moment believe this – poor Webster. He recovers and says I must emphasise “gin” in virgin and sings “virgin” and then “pink gin”! Anne and I nearly die laughing. Anne writes down next to it “pink gin!” She says that my diction is generally good. He sings O, Thou That Tellest from Messiah. She asks whether I’d like to do some oratorio. Tells me about a singer in Don Pasquale and says that she couldn’t hear for about five or ten minutes what language she was singing in, her diction was so bad!

Webster goes down to bring the car nearer to the studio and Anne goes on with the lesson – she gives me a whole hour. She feels my breathing and says that my bust mustn’t move and I must watch it. Gives me a demonstration of her own breathing. If I could even breathe like her, I’d be very happy.

I leave at 5.30 and she tells me that she’s going to Durban for a concert at the weekend and tomorrow they have a show at Wanderers. During lesson Webster asks, “Where’s that contralto album Mabel left us?” I meet him coming from the car and we say goodbye and “Hope there’ll be no riots!”

Durban concert

BROADCASTS BY WEBSTER BOOTH (1946 – 1956)

 

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

Share/Bookmark  
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.

—————————————————————————————————————-

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)

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

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

—————————————————————————————————————

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-  

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

 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.

—————————————————————————————————————-

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.