ANNE ZIEGLER (22nd June 1910 – 13th October 2003)

On the occasion of the thirteenth anniversary of the death of Anne Ziegler (Tuesday 13 October 2003) I am posting a picture of her posing as Mrs Siddons in the famous Gainsborough painting. This photograph first appeared in The Star (Johannesburg) in 1962.

Hear Anne singing in Noel Coward Vocal Gems (1947)

 

 

Anne as principal boy in panto.

13 OCTOBER is the anniversary of the death of Anne Ziegler in Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno, North Wales. It seems no time since I received the sad phone call from her friend, Sally Rayner to let me know that Anne had passed away. Anne had a bad fall in her home in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales on 8 August 2003 and spent the last few months of her life in  hospital. She died on 13 October, 2003, at the age of 93.

I am posting this beautiful photograph of Anne dressed in a rose-trimmed crinoline. During Anne’s singing career in the UK in the days of fame and glory during the forties and early fifties, Anne was noted for the beautiful crinolines she wore in the Variety act with her husband, the renowned British tenor, Webster Booth, and in stage and film performances. The gown in this photograph is an excellent example and the roses allude to Anne and Webster’s signature tune, Only a Rose from The Vagabond King. The couple starred in a revival of this Rudolf Friml musical at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1943.

While the generation who remembers Anne and Webster from those far-off days is growing smaller with the passing years, I hope new generations will discover them by listening to their recordings, many of which are available on CD. I have uploaded a number of rare 78 rpm recordings by Anne and Webster on YOU TUBE, and you may listen to these by clicking on the links to the right, or go directly to Duettist’s YouTube channel. Anne did not make many solo recordings, but Webster made recordings of oratorio, opera, ballads, musicals and art songs as well as medleys and duets with other singers as well as numerous duet recordings with Anne.

There is a group on Facebook dedicated to the lives, recordings, photos and careers of Anne and Webster. Many of their 78rpm recordings have been perfectly restored by Mike Taylor, the co-administrator of the group. We have 83 members at present and would welcome anyone who is interested in the couple. Click on the link below to join our group.

The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends

Jean Collen – 12th October 2016.

DUET by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

https://clyp.it/rbifk0dz/widget

Click on the above link to hear a recording of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler singing one of their most popular duets, Will You Remember? (Sigmund Romberg)
I have digitised Duet, the autobiography of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, published by Stanley Paul in 1951. It is available as a paperback and an epub book at: My Lulu bookstore

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The introduction to the book reads as follows:

England’s most popular duettists, who have sung in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and America, and are loved by millions of radio fans, have written their love-story together.

The provincial choirboy and the little Liverpool pianist have come a long way. Webster Booth ran away from an accountant’s stool to tour England at £4 a week and sing on the piers. Anne Ziegler’s father was ruined on the cotton market, so she sang in restaurant cabaret. They met playing the lovers in “Faust” – and fell in love. But he was married already.

Concert-party struggles, pantomime rivalries, fun and peril in early films, adventures at Savoy Hill and parts in stage “flops” were followed by great successes. She was hailed as “Radio’s Nightingale”, and as a leading lady in New York and London, a film star and BBC favourite. He sang at the Albert Hall and Covent Garden, starred in the West End and on films and radio. They went half round the world together, singing.

There are two-fisted criticisms and fascinating glimpses behind the scenes in film-land, stage-land and the mad and magic world of music. The authors laugh at themselves, each other and the world as they take you with them – this boy and girl who made good in one of real life’s most moving romances.

The links are as follows:

Paperback:

DUET by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

 

E-book (Epub)

DUET by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler.

John Marwood, a member of The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends group on Facebook wrote the following interesting review of the book:

I’ve just read Duet, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s autobiography, published by Stanley Paul & Co. in 1951.

My plan was to read it over several days, but once I’d started, I could not put it down.

In the opening chapter Webster says that ‘Someone must begin even a duet. The die is cast and I am the victim – though, no doubt, the ladies will have the last word!’

The first chapter and all subsequent odd numbers are simply headed ’Webster’; and all the even ones are headed ‘Anne’.

The last chapter of the 25 is headed ‘Webster and Anne’; and so the autobiography ends neatly with a joint effort – a duet.

The remark by Webster about ladies sets the tone. It is light, witty and amusing. There is no chapter without entertaining anecdotes.

Apparently the book was ghost-written by the late Frank S. Stuart [Frank Stanley Stuart]. Frank was adept at presenting amusing tales that were based on factual events. Mention is made of precise events in diaries, so I imagine both characters lent their diaries to the writer and spent many hours relating tales, adventures and anecdotes about the past. The two personae sound entirely plausible.

I was surprised by the strong anti-war remarks in the book; and it seems the ghost-writer was a pacifist. Apparently Webster and Anne were not happy with these remarks, and it seems surprising that the publisher allowed them to remain. Only 6 years after the end of the terrible world conflagration many readers must have felt uncomfortable about some of these remarks.

The book was published 5 years before the couple left for South Africa. It is pity we never get to hear them speaking about their years there, but perhaps 1951 was when they were at the peak of their fame. We read of the couple’s delight to be told that Queen Mary had herself picked out their act as a favourite one which she wished to hear at a Gala Variety to mark her eightieth birthday. We read of other encounters with the royal family.

It is a tale of fun and glamour, tails and crinolines, a most entertaining story – a must-read for everyone who remembers the couple, or for anyone who has just discovered them recently.

John Marwood

I might add that John Marwood proofread the digitised copy most meticulously. I am very grateful to him for his help.

Here is a short review of the book, published in The Age, an Australian newspaper, on 16 February 1952.

16 February 1952 - The New Age

Review of “Duet” (1952)

Review by Fiona Compton: 

By Fiona Compton
May 31, 2016
I read this book many years ago and am delighted that it has been digitised and once again available to those who are interested in reading about the illustrious careers of tenor Webster Booth and soprano Anne Ziegler. Although the book was written by a ghost-writer, the tone of the alternate chapters written in turn by Anne and Webster captures the personalities of both writers – Webster’s writing is more measured and thoughtful than Anne’s enthusiastic, spontaneous writing. Webster Booth had one of the finest British tenor voices of the twentieth century and had a distinguished career in oratorio and recording in his own right. Anne Ziegler had a pleasant light soprano voice and a charming personality, but she was never in the same vocal class as her husband. This book is entitled “Duet”, so the emphasis of the book is on the work the couple did together as duettists on the concert and variety stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I would have liked to have heard more about Webster’s distinguished solo singing career. No doubt this book was responsible for giving people the idea that Webster was merely a romantic duettist in partnership with his wife, doing nothing more than singing light songs together with her. Despite this reservation, the book moves at lightning pace and is most enjoyable. I recommend it highly.

 

 

Jean Collen

5 May 2016.

 

 

 

DuetDuet by Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler were my singing teachers in Johannesburg. While I was studying with them I acted as Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne (who usually played the piano for students) had other engagements. We became good friends, a friendship which lasted until they died – Webster in 1984, and Anne in 2003.

I first read “Duet” when Webster brought it into the studio and gave it to me to read. I was fascinated by the lively story of their rise to fame, their romance which was fraught with difficulties because Webster was married to Paddy Prior already, and their popularity as duettists during the forties and early fifties.

This book was written when they were at the height of their fame, some years before they had income tax difficulties and eventually moved to South Africa in 1956. Perhaps it was as well that the book ended before they experienced any hardship.

I have always tried to keep Anne and Webster’s singing and illustrious careers before the public. I am sure that anyone who reads their autobiography will get a good idea of their charming personalities from reading this fascinating book. Several people who have read it recently, have described it as “unputdownable”. I hope whoever reads this review and is tempted to read the book will share that opinion of it!

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Welcome to “The Drawing Room”.

 

 Webster Booth, seated left, Peggy Haddon and Anna Bender (at piano), Gé Korsten and Jean Gluckman (singers), Kathleen Alister (harp) and studio audience.

 

Nearly fifty-four years ago, in April 1962, Webster Booth presented a short series of drawing room concerts on the English Service of the SABC before an invited studio audience. He and
Anne sang solos and duets in several programmes, and a number of guest
artistes took part. Webster also sang duets with bass, Graham Burns.
Among the guest artistes were Doris Brasch and Rita Roberts (sopranos)
Gert Potgieter and Gé Korsten (tenors), Graham Burns (bass) Jean
Gluckman (contralto), Kathleen Allister (harp), Maisie Flinck and Peggy
Haddon (pianos) and Walter Mony (violin). A trumpeter also appeared in
one of the programmes, but I do not remember his name after all this
time. The accompanist was Anna Bender, the official accompanist at the SABC.

 The idea was to create the atmosphere of a polite middle-class Victorian or Edwardian
drawing room concert, where singers and instrumentalists performed their
party pieces such as In a Monastery Garden, The Maiden’s Prayer, O Dry Those Tears and
the like. Sounds of polite conversation and laughter between the items,
with restrained applause for the musical offerings were required, so a
studio audience was invited to provide these “noises off”.

Shortly before this programme started, Webster wrote an article for the SABC Bulletin on
17 March 1962.

A Nostalgic Half-hour of Memories by Webster Booth

“Do you remember those Drawing-room concerts our Grandparents used to hold in the afternoons and evenings way back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s? There were of course, the Society At Homes. These were rather serious affairs, when artistes of repute were engaged. Such artistes as Ben Davis, Madame Patti, Charles Santley and even Madame Melba were paid huge sums of money to entertain the guests.

However, in this new series, to be called Drawing-Room, we want to concentrate on the homely atmosphere, with those lovely old ballads, such as Parted, Little Grey Home in the West, The Rosary, Tosti’s Goodbye, Friend o’ Mine, A Perfect Day, etc., together with those grand pianoforte solos which were all in the Star Folios, and without which no one was considered a pianist. Items like The Maiden’s Prayer, Destiny Waltz, In a Monastery Garden etc. Then the fiddle solos and fiddle obbligatos, vocal duets such as Watchman, What of the Night? Moonlight and Roses and Battle Eve. I so well remember my father, who was Barber-Surgeon to the Royal Staffordshire Regiment, dressing up in his red and gold uniform and singing The Veteran’s Song, and I would be induced to sing in my treble voice, songs like Valé and The Song of Hope, while my mother and sisters had a wonderful evening crying their eyes out. Those were the days when composers wrote songs for the voice, and singers learned to sing ballads. Believe me, those songs needed singing.  They had a story to tell, usually in three verses, all different tempos, portraying passion, joy and tears, and finishing up on a hefty top note.

We intend to invite a small studio audience to help to catch the atmosphere of the drawing-room, and to have well known South African artistes, both vocal and instrumental, to sing and play to us. This  programme will, I am sure, bring to the older listeners a glorious nostalgic half-hour of memories, and will let the younger generations realise there was real music in the home before the advent of the Cinema, Radio and the gramophone. Do tune in to the English programme at 8.30 pm on Wednesday evenings and join us in our Drawing-room. I shall be in charge of the entertainment and Miss Anna
Bender will be our Hostess at the pianoforte.”

For the first recording, Webster invited pupils and friends to form part of the Drawing Room in one of the smaller recording studios at Broadcasting House, Commissioner Street. I was very excited when he asked if I would like to attend the recording. My great friend and fellow pupil of Anne and Webster’s, Ruth Ormond, and I were there with our parents and we noticed Lucille Ackerman, another pupil,  accompanied by a large family contingent.

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Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (1963)

 

Anne and Webster looked particularly glamorous for the occasion. Anne was wearing a beautiful evening gown, a mink stole – not yet a politically incorrect item of dress  – her fair hair in a chignon, while Webster was in full evening dress, all set to act as compère for the evening and to sing some drawing room ballads into the bargain. The accompanist for the series was Anna Bender, the official accompanist for the SABC. Anne and Webster received their guests graciously. Anne told Ruth and me to save her a seat in the front row, where she sat between us and played her full part in chatting to us between the items on the programme to evoke the atmosphere of a drawing room at the beginning of the twentieth
century.

My dear friend, Ruth Ormond, 1963

Ruth Ormond and me (below).

Photo Album

 I’m afraid that this was not the atmosphere conveyed to those listening in to these broadcasts. The polite studio audience applauded vigorously, suggesting the city hall rather than a drawing room. Fifty-four years later I still remember Miss Rita Roberts (soprano) singing Christina’s Lament to the tune of Dvorak’s Humoresque, Mr Walter Mony (violin), Miss Anna Bender (accompanist) and finally Webster himself, aged sixty and still in fine voice, singing The Kashmiri Song, The Sweetest flower that Blows, Parted, O Dry Those Tears and finally If You Had But Known with violin obbligato by the excellent Mr Mony, a French Canadian, who became a professor and head of the music department at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ruth and I were entranced to have spent such a happy evening and to see and hear Webster singing only a few feet away from where we were sitting. As we were leaving I told Anne breathlessly that Webster’s singing was wonderful and she replied, “Yes, we’re both very proud of him, aren’t we, darling?” which made me feel rather naïve and childish although I was all of eighteen at the time.

The Drawing Room series was recorded over a number of weeks and we attended another recording when Anne, in a sleeveless black evening dress, sang If No One Ever Marries Me, The Little Damozel and a Handel aria from the opera Xerses, He’ll Say That For My Love. Anne had sung the last song at her Wigmore Hall recital in 1933. Later in that programme she and Webster sang duets together: Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes and The Second Minuet.

One evening Ruth and I were at a choir practice with the SABC choir and she decided that during our interval, we should go to the Drawing Room studio to say hello to Webster during the break in his recording session. The first programme was not quite finished so we slipped into the studio quietly and listened to Kathleen Alister playing two solos on her harp.

Webster came out of the studio after the recording and appeared delighted to see us and kissed us both in greeting. He asked what we were doing there, and then said, “Oh, of course, you’re working aren’t you? It’s a pity you can’t stay for the next recording to hear the wonderful trumpeter.”

We were both so excited at meeting Webster (not entirely unexpectedly) and being kissed into the bargain, that Ruth walked into the men’s cloakroom instead of the women’s, only to have him politely point her in the right direction. We were both blood red with embarrassment by the time we got back to our seats at our now rather tame choir practice.

I thought Drawing Room was a lovely programme, but the critics had their misgivings about it, saying that the atmosphere created was not quite right, so it was taken off the air after a relatively short time. I once made enquiries at the SABC as to whether any of the programmes existed in their archives, but apparently they had not been kept. I had recorded several programmes via a microphone on my newly-acquired reel-to-reel tape recorder. The sound quality of these recordings is not very good, but when I listen to them all these years later, I am transformed into an excited and optimistic teenager, back in that SABC studio with Ruth and Anne, completely entranced with the music of the Drawing Room.

Sadly, it has occurred to me that most of the people mentioned in this article are now dead and gone, but the memory of that happy time remains vividly in my mind.

Here are links to some of the songs Webster sang on that programme.

Click on the links to hear him.

Friend o’ Mine (Restored by Mike Taylor) https://clyp.it/2hupnyrm

Parted (Tosti) https://clyp.it/qriewsgs

O, Dry Those Tears (del Riego) https://clyp.it/llblyizd

The Sweetest Flower that Blows https://clyp.it/0iftdnlr

Jean Collen –  April 2016

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

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THE GOLDEN AGE OF WEBSTER BOOTH-ANNE ZIEGLER AND FRIENDS

 

Recently I closed the Booth-Ziegler Yahoo Group. I created a group on FACEBOOK to replace the defunct Yahoo group. If you belong to Facebook, click on the following link and request to join:

THE GOLDEN AGE OF WEBSTER BOOTH-ANNE ZIEGLER AND FRIENDS

Here is some information about the group. I hope you will be tempted to join!

Welcome to this group for admirers of the singing and the careers of British duettists Webster Booth (1902 -1984) and Anne Ziegler (1910 – 2003) and related artists. We will add duets and solos by Anne and Webster and related artists, share photos, links to related sites, and information about them.
Please feel free to post, start discussions, add videos, recordings and ephemera featuring Anne and Webster and related artists, comment, ask questions – and answer them if you can.
I began my singing studies with Webster and Anne at their studio in Johannesburg at the end of 1960 when I was 17 years old. Early in 1963 they asked me if I would accompany for Webster in their studio when Anne was unavailable to do this. That was certainly one of the most fulfilling and life-changing experiences of my life. I did my associate and licentiate diplomas with them and we remained close friends until their deaths – Webster in 1984, and Anne in 2003. They played a very important part in my life and I will always remember them with love.
Anne and Webster were an unassuming couple who did not boast about their achievements. I found out much more about these when I began researching their careers after Anne’s death in 2003 and published my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. All my books about Anne and Webster may be seen at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/duettists
I started this group hoping to keep the memory of their lives, voices and careers alive and have gladly shared recordings, photos and other ephemera here and I hope that the group will continue long after I am dead and gone. I have bequeathed my collection to the Museum of English Literature in Grahamstown, South Africa.
Mike Taylor, the other administrator of the group, has shared his restored collection of 78rpms. We are very lucky to have these restorations in our collection. You will be able to hear many rare recordings featuring Anne, Webster, and artists with whom they were friendly or with whom they worked. If you look at the group photos many have links to these recordings, which may be downloaded for your own pleasure (and NOT for commercial usage).
RULES
There are many recordings, photographs and articles here. You may download these for your own pleasure, but they may not be used for commercial purposes.
Do not post adverts unrelated to the group. If anyone posts an advert he/she will be given a warning and the advert will be removed. If the person posts a subsequent advert he/she will be removed and blocked from the group.
If you wish to publicize a concert or event in which you are taking part, please ask the administrators for permission first.
Please limit your posts about related artists to a maximum of two a day otherwise Anne and Webster’s contribution will be swamped.
Please make sure that the recordings you post actually have some connection to Anne and Webster’s work – either by the music with which they were associated, the artists they knew and admired, with whom they worked, or who were working in the same musical sphere at the same time.
Please treat fellow members with courtesy, and do not blaspheme.
If you wish to contact me off-line, my email is: booth-ziegler@outlook.com
RELATED ARTISTS:
Essie Ackland,  Arthur Askey, Isobel Baillie, Owen Brannigan,  George Baker, Basil Cameron,  Alfredo Campoli, Gwen Catley, Noel Coward,  Joan Cross, Harry Parr Davies, Bebe Daniels,  Peter Dawson, Mary Ellis, Nancy Evans, Kathleen Ferrier,  Flotsam and Jetsam/ Malcolm McEachern, Will Fyffe, Gert and Daisy,  Olive Gilbert,  Leon Goosens, Harry Gordon, Martyn Green, Frederick Grinke, Herbert Greenslade, Olive Groves, Garda Hall, Joan Hammond, Tommy Handley, Fred Hartley, Stanley Holloway, Tom Howell,  Winifred Lawson, Evelyn Laye, Janet Lind, David Lloyd, Mark Lubbock, Ernest Lush, Ben Lyon,  George Melachrino, Gerald Moore, Elsie Morrison, Alice Moxon, Heddle Nash, Oscar Natzke, Robert Naylor,  Dennis Noble, Ray Noble (pre USA), Ivor Novello, Derek Oldham, Geoffrey Parsons,  Rawicz and Landauer, Gladys Ripley, Stuart Robertson, Eric Robinson, Stanford Robinson, Albert Sandler, Malcolm Sargent, Elsie Suddaby, Richard Tauber, Inia te Wiata,  Tommy Trinder, Jack Warner, Harry Welchman, Harold Williams.
Other artists from the same period, but not necessarily related to Anne and Webster in any way: Jack Buchanan, Gracie Fields, Layton and Johnstone,  Melville Gideon, Jessie Matthews, Gladys Moncrieff,  Anna Neagle.

 

Webster and Anne on the Russell Harty TV show (1981)

 

Webster on Saturday Night Revue (1937)

 

Webster and Anne in The Faust Fantasy (1935

 

 

 

Jean Collen – October 2015.


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MY RECORD COLLECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

ImageBooth in 1985. Image

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Webster had started recording for HMV in 1930, so by the late eighties there were enough recordings out of the fifty year copyright for other smaller recording companies to produce CDs of the duet and solo recordings. By the late nineteen-nineties there were a number of compilation CDs released at a time when it had become possible to restore the quality of the recordings to pristine condition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends

on Facebook includes a great collection of recordings, photos and memorabilia. If you are interested in hearing rare recordings by Webster and Anne and some related artistes, please join the group.

Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

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