1956: The First Eurovision

1956: The First Eurovision
Photo Credit To https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ESC_1956_Map.svg

At the first competition, each country was represented by two songs. There were only seven competing countries.


The first Eurovision Song Contest (Eurovision) was held on this day in 1956. Europe was still recovering from the consequences of World War II, so the goal of the organizers was to invent a program that would be entertaining and that would gather Europeans around a common goal. The Sanremo Music Festival was the model around which the Eurovision was developed. Organizing a TV broadcast of the contest in many European countries was quite a challenge at this time since there was still no satellite TV, meaning the show was broadcast exclusively through terrestrial TV networks.


Since the number of Europeans who owned a TV at that time was low, most of them followed the competition over the radio. The place the competition was held was Lugano, Switzerland – a famous resort town at a lake near the Italian border, sometimes called the “Swiss Monte Carlo”. Only 7 countries participated at the first contest: West Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Benelux. There were 39 participants at the 2015 contest (plus Australia as a guest participant).


At the first competition, each country was represented by two songs, but this was reduced to one already for the second competition. Switzerland won the first contest with the song Refrain by Lys Assia. She also tried to become the Swiss representative in Azerbaijan in 2012, but only managed to win eighth place. There was no voting at the first contest, but only a ceremony at which the victor was announced. Lys Assia received no reward for her victory. A peculiarity about the show was that only individual performers were originally allowed to participate – bands were prohibited.

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