ALWAYS (Kenneth Leslie-Smith)
Always comes from The Puritan Lullaby by Kenneth Leslie-Smith. Webster Booth took part in the broadcast of this show on BBC radio in September 1935. The cast included baritones George Baker and Stuart Robertson. BBC Theatre Orchestra and the Revue Chorus was conducted by Stanford Robinson.
COMFORT YE/ EV’RY VALLEY (Handel)
He was very well known in his day. Although his voice was light it could still fill the Albert Hall without the aid of a microphone.
HEART’S DESIRE selection
In response to a remark about Alan Keith’s Hundred Best Tunes: Towards the end of the eighties Alan Keith presented The Golden Years in which he also played many of their recordings. Although they had never met, Alan Keith attended Webster's memorial service at St Paul's, Covent Garden, in 1984.
In response to a comment that the person was sorry to have missed a concert in 1978: They had just arrived back in the UK after 22 years in South Africa and were surprised to find that people remembered them after their absence. They embarked on their short "third career" in the UK until Webster's health failed and he died in June1984.
LAND WITHOUT MUSIC selection
Webster once told me that when he went to a recording date at HMV he was given about six items to record on each particular occasion, so the choice of what he would record was made by the powers-that-be rather than the singer. I know that he admired Richard Tauber's voice, which was a lyric tenor much like his own.
LOVE'S GARDEN OF ROSES (Haydn Wood)
I love the song and think this is one of Anne and Webster's best duet recordings.
MERRY WIDOW WALTZ (Lehar)
2009 Webster Booth died 25 years ago on 21 June 1984 in Llandudno, North Wales. This duet comes from a radio programme in the 1940s when he and Anne Ziegler were at the height of their popularity as duettists.
MORNING (Oley Speaks)
The only other songs by Oley Speaks I can recall offhand are Sylvia, which begins, "Sylvia's hair is like the night..." and his most famous song, The Road to Mandalay, recorded by many baritones. Webster recorded Sylvia, but sadly I do not have it in my collection.
MORNING GLORY (Kenneth Leslie-Smith)
In answer to a query about the photographs I used in the video: Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth lived in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales when they returned to the UK in 1978, so instead of a series of photographs of WB himself, I decidedto use photographs associated with their time in Llandudno.
NOCTURNE (Chopin, arranged by Maurice Besly)
I'm afraid I don't know the exact date of the recording. I imagine it was recorded some time in the late forties. The recordnumber of this 12" 78rpm is HMV C3460. I have since found out that it was recorded in 1945.
(In reply to a comment by Selwyn Lotzof) I also had lessons with Anne and Webster at the same time as you and was Webster's accompanist when Anne was away. I remember playing for you! Happy memories!
ONAWAY, AWAKE, BELOVED by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Webster Booth sang the tenor solos in Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast many times before and after WWII. Sir Malcolm Sargent chose him especially to sing the part for his sixtieth birthday concert in 1955.
ROMANCE from THE ROBBER SYMPHONY (Feher)
I have Webster Booth’s recording of Celeste Aida, sungin English as are all his other operatic recordings. When Webster Booth was in South Africa he and Anne Ziegler made an LP of their popular duets in Afrikaans entitled Net maar ‘n Roos, but Romance from the film, The Robber Symphony is the only other WB recording I know in a language other than English.
SERENADE from FRASQUITA (Lehar)
I see that in 1948 he also recorded Break of Day, Wayside Rose, and My Heart and I, all closely associated with Richard Tauber. I know he had no say in what he recorded but was given a selection of songs to record on particular recording dates. I can only think that the powers-that-be at HMV decided he should record these songs because Tauber had recently died.
SOUND AN ALARM (Handel)
At the age of 61 he sang the tenor part in Elijah in Pietermaritzburg. The MD told everyone that the organ was pitched a semitone higher than concert pitch so the orchestra would have to tune up accordingly. When asked whether the higher pitch would be a problem for Webster at his advanced singing age, he replied that he would just put on a second jockstrap and all would be well! As far as I know, it was!
WAFT HER, ANGELS, THROUGH THE SKIES (Handel)
Webster Booth was one of Britain's finest oratorio singers of his generation and was known for the clarity of his diction and runs, and for his excellent musicianship. He recorded for HMV for over 20 years, and was Sir Malcolm Sargent's personal choice as soloist at his 60th birthday concert in 1955.
I have never understood why Webster is underrated as a singer today as I think he deserves a place amongst the best. Most people think all he ever did was sing light duets with Anne Ziegler on the variety circuit. He told me that oratorio singing meant more to him than any other branch of his singing career. You should be able to listen to the recordings by clicking on the links.