October 17, 2003 by

Anne Ziegler


Categories: Musicians

Anne Ziegler, who was half of one of Britain’s most popular singing acts during World War II, died Oct. 13. Cause of death was not released. She was 93.
Born Irene Frances Eastwood in Liverpool, Ziegler trained as a classical pianist and singer. She changed her name, appeared in the musical, “Virginia,” in New York and landed a role in the 1938 movie, “Faust.” During the filming, the beautiful soprano met and married tenor Webster Booth. Together they formed a popular singing team and toured Britain performing popular ballads including, “Only a Rose” and “We’ll Gather Lilacs.”
When British tastes in music changed, the couple moved to South Africa so they could remain faithful to their original sound. Ziegler and Booth returned to Wales in 1978, where they taught singing and occasionally made public appearances.

14 Responses to Anne Ziegler

  1. W. Thompson

    I can only testify as a member of an audience during the war years, probably early ’45 or late ’44, more likely the latter, in Tunbridge Wells, when the pair performed before an audience that at that time heartedly welcomed their warm romantic songs and duets, and especially their singing “No, John, no, John, no” with artful knowingness, especially on Anne Ziegler’s part. Perhaps not enough consideration is given to the need of a populace undergoing the long drawn stresses of wartime to have just a few, but all too brief, moments to indulge an urge for romanticism and warm dreams that enabled one to escape and forget the stresses of life whatever their source. I can remember waiting at the stage door for their exit. Their cheery response to the handful there was testimony to their dedication to their art and their audience, for I am sure in hindsight they could not have felt as grateful to us as they seemed at that moment.

  2. Norman Staveley

    I never had the pleasure of hearing either Webster Booth or Anne Ziegler ‘live’, but had always admired their singing on radio and on ’78rpm’ records. In 1999, wishing to ascertain whether they had sung in my home town, I was enabled to telephone Anne Ziegler, and she immediately confirmed that they had been engaged for a local concert. They were the celebrity soloists when two male-voice choirs, one from Germany, sang at our ‘City Hall’ in 1938. In a charming voice she told me how much they had enjoyed the event, and was not at all cross with me for telephoning !
    If I may mention Webster Booth, I think his committed singing, in that distinctive voice of his, of ballads, religious songs and operatic arias is a delight. Both of them ensured that the words were heard and their musicianship deserves the highest praise. I count it a privilege to be able still to hear their singing.

  3. Class 12J

    We have been a fan of Annie Ziegler since learning about different forms of recorded music. We accidentally stumbled upon her classic recording of our geatest success and became instant fans.
    Thank you
    12J, Meldreth Manor School

  4. John Millman

    We are now studying the life of Anne Ziegler in class 12J at Meldreth Manor School, Royston, Cambridge, UK. She clearly had an amazing life and we can only wonder at the joy she brought her audiences during the wartime years. We are keen to hear from anyone who was lucky enough to hear Anne Ziegler live and can be contacted at dthomson78@yahoo.co.uk.
    Thank you.
    Class 12J


    My mother attened the Tilley and corbin Music studio at the same time as Anne Ziegler they were both music students at the same time and then accompanied her and Webster Booth as she was a solo pianist with the liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. I would be grateful for any information or photos which may include my mother Violet Myrtle Wray her cousin was the well know valve trombonist Ken Wray in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

  6. Jean Collen

    I was interested to discover on the Internet the Blog of the death of my former singing teacher and close friend of forty-three years, Anne Ziegler, and thought that I would like to add my contribution. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who remembers them and who appreciates their singing as fondly as I do myself.
    I first met Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in their studio in Johannesburg, where they taught ‘Singing and Stagecraft’. That was at the end of 1960 when I was a seventeen-year-old. I did my Associate and Licentiate singing diplomas under their guidance and I was Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne (who acted as accompanist as well as teacher) had other engagements. They were like second parents to me, and we remained close friends until Webster’s death in 1984, and Anne’s death on 13 October 2003. I last spoke to Anne at the beginning of August. A week later, she had a fall and remained in hospital until her death.
    Anne and Webster presented an essentially romantic and glamorous image in their variety act, but they were both excellent musicians, and created a unique blend of voices in harmony.
    The colour film of ‘Faust’ was made in 1934/35 rather than 1938. It was during the making of that film, in which Webster played Faust to Anne’s Marguerite, where they first met.
    Although in great demand with their double act in Variety, Webster continued to sing in oratorios on the concert platform. He was one of the finest British lyric tenors of the twentieth century, a fact often overlooked by today’s critics, who often ignore him because he sang lighter music equally as well as the usual tenor repertoire. His recordings of the tenor arias in oratorios such as ‘Samson’, ‘Messiah’, ‘Acis and Galatea’ and ‘Jephtha’ remain unsurpassed. He was a notable Hiawatha in Coleridge Taylor’s ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’ and ‘Gerontius’ in Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’.
    Their autobiography ‘Duet’ was written in the United Kingdom in 1951and published by Stanley Paul, five years before they emigrated to South Africa. Each wrote alternate chapters of the book, culminating in a final one, written jointly.
    I was pleased to discover on the Internet a number of up and coming young singers from the Royal Northern College of Music who were awarded the Webster Booth or Anne Ziegler prize during their studies there. These awards were instituted several years after Webster’s death and Anne was one of the judges at a number of the competitions.
    When I last visited Anne at her home in Penrhyn Bay, she told me that their last concert together was in Bridlington, when Webster was already showing signs of his last illness. After that concert, she knew that they would never give another performance together, and that ‘I’ll see you again’ had been their swan song.
    Although Anne and Webster had no children of their own, Webster had a son, Keith, by his first marriage, and two grandchildren. Keith died in 1997.
    They were a wonderful couple, completely without side, who were kindness itself to me and to many others who knew them. They are sadly missed, but will be ever remembered by those, like me, who knew and loved them.
    P O Box 1603

  7. Jean Collen

    Further to my previous post, I have since created a site dedicated to the lives and careers of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. It is called Duettists and may be found at http://duettists.blogspot.com
    I would be grateful if anyone with memories of Anne and Webster could contact me so that I might add their memories to the site.
    Jean Collen

  8. Joan

    I have been a fan of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth since my teenage years and listened to their glorious God given voices on the old wireless. They were greatly missed in this country while living in South Africa, but what great joy when they returned to live in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales.
    To my great delight, on a snowy February Sunday afternoon, they came to our local Theatre Clwyd to sing and talk about their careers. I presented them with a tray of my homemade toffee, and that was the start of a very lovely friendship.
    Every Christmas I would send by carrier a box of homemade goodies and vegetables from my garden.Webster was particularly fond of my varieties of chutneys and jams and Anne used to say he was like a child in a bran tub.
    Sadly, when Webster died, Anne devoted her life to her little Yorkshire Terrier Bonnie and valued my friendship. My friend Allun Davies, a singing teacher from South Wales came to stay with me every year and we took Anne out for a birthday lunch with one or two of her fans. She was full of fun and we all had some good laughs.On her eightieth birthday, I arranged a birthday party for her at Erddig Hall and my friend Buddig made the cake with “Only a Rose” in icing, the press took photographs outside the hall.
    As Anne grew older, just Allun and I took her for a birthday lunch, but she looked forward to my regular Sunday morning chats on the telephone.We chatted about her fans in different parts of the world and I said I was a local fan. I felt very honoured when she said, ” My dear, you are not a fan, you are my most cherished friend.”
    Allun & I visited Anne on August 2nd. 2003, she was very frail and unable to go out for lunch, but I took some tasty snacks for her.We kissed & hugged her and told her not to come to the door, but when we got to the car, she was at the window, the net curtains pushed one side a BIG smile on her face and she was blowing kisses to us. We knew then that that was her last curtain call.
    She passed away in October 2003, but managed to eat a box of chocolates I posted her four days before she died.
    A friend took me to the cremation in Colwyn Bay and Sally Hill placed a fragrant Cloud Rose (her favourite) from my garden on her coffin.I still miss her very much, but often still feel she is here with us. She left me a large box of her lovely studio photographs, now mounted in five albums
    Joan, North Wales 17th.. February 2006

  9. Allun Davies

    I am a professional singer and tutor from Neath South Wales.
    My parents were lovers of music and great singers so at an early age, I was listening to the lovely voices of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth on the old Shellac 78s.
    Sadly Webster died before I had chance of meeting him.
    I first met Anne at Theatr Clwyd in Mold on April 12th. 1987. I was singing there in one of our touring concerts “Music for All”
    My friend Joan,had invited Anne and we were delighted to hear that Anne Ziegler was in the audience. Joan had give me a beautiful basket of flowers to present to her on the night.
    After the first half, it was announced that Anne Ziegler was in the audience. We were all thrilled and I made an announcement that we had the presence of the Fisst Lady of the theatre, films, radio and TV, in the audience.
    There was an outburst of excited applause as the spotlight focussed on Anne. She was escorted onto the stage and I presented her with the basket of flowers and a box of chocolates.
    I sang “Only a Rose” to her while holding her hand. She was so gracious and had a lovely smile when I finished singing.
    The audience gave her a standing ovation as I led Anne to the front of the stage.She turned to me and said “My dear if I had known you were going to sing Only a Rose I would have sang it with you”.
    What a lost opportunity for me to have sung with the legendry Anne Ziegler, but Joan took a photograph of Anne and I after the show.
    This was the start of a long friendship with Anne, meeting with her, while staying with Joan every year and taking her out for a birthday treat, as well as phoning her for a chat from time to time.
    Some years ago I presented a series of Radio Programmes “Great Voices on Swansea Sound” and closed the programmes every week with Anne & Websters recording of “Now is the Hour”.
    Anne enjoyed our conversations on Theatre and great voices. We had so many laughs. she had a great sense of humour.
    Like Joan I miss her very much.
    Lovely memories.

  10. Malcolm Mardle

    My Mother accompanied Anne and Webster on the piano when they visited Luton, Bedfordshire, England, just after the war.
    I remember them singing Macushla, (which I still play on my euphonium) and would love to know if I can obtain a record / CD which includes them singing this song. What a wonderful couple. Such beautiful music they made together. Thank you so much for helping to keep their memory alive. Malcolm

  11. Malcolm Fraser

    The voices of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were part of my youth and I remember their records and radio broadcasts with warm affection. They have brightened my life and I will not forget them.

  12. Beryl Mendel

    I have been living here for the past 10 years but grew up in South Africa, and from about the age of 14 I just loved their singing and had so very many records of theirs. I even wrote to them once and received a photo. I lived in Durban and didn’t know that they had moved to South Africa. I have them singing on many tapes and love to listen to them still. I was a very, very great fan.

  13. Elaine

    Can anyone tell me where I might find the lyrics to the song sang by Anne Zielger & Webster Booth “My Inspiration is You” or who wrote it, my grandfather used to sing it to me when I was very young, he was obviously inspired by this great couple, and it would be wonderful to be able to listen to the song again, as he passed away a number of years ago.
    Thank you

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