24.05.

1956: First Eurovision Song Contest

1956: First Eurovision Song Contest
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Lugano, aerial view

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 24 May 1956
  • It is interesting that each country performed two songs on the first contest (that practice was abolished the following year). Only seven countries (West Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and Benelux states) participated in this first competition. Since a small number of Europeans even owned a television at that time, most of them followed the contest on the radio.

On this day in 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest was held. Europe was then still recovering from World War II, and the organizers wanted to devise a program that would be entertaining and would gather Europeans around a common goal.

The competition was modeled on the famous Sanremo Music Festival. Organizing television coverage to be displayed in many European countries simultaneously was quite an undertaking at that time because there was no satellite television, so a terrestrial TV network had to be used.

Since only a small number of Europeans even owned a television at that time, most of them followed the contest on the radio.

The venue for that first contest was the Swiss town Lugano near the Italian border, which lies on Lake Lugano. Lugano is still a fashionable resort of world celebrities and is often referred to as “the Swiss Monte Carlo.

Only seven countries (West Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Benelux states) participated in that first competition.Today, as many as 39 countries take part at the Eurovision Song Contest.

It is interesting that, at the first competition, each country performed two songs (that practice was abolished the following year). The winner was Switzerland (the host country) with the song “Refrain”, performed by Lys Assia.

Interestingly, in 2011, Lys Assia tried to become the Swiss representative at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Azerbaijan, but won only 8th place. The votes for each performing country on that first contest were not disclosed, as they are today, but only the winner was announced.

It is interesting that there was a provision that allowed only solo artists to enter the contest, and not bands. Lys Assia did not receive any reward for winning first place.

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