Eurovision Song Contest 1956

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Eurovision Song Contest 1956
ESC 1956 logo.png
Final date 24 May 1956
Venue Teatro Kursaal
Lugano, Switzerland
Presenter(s) Lohengrin Filipello
Conductor Fernando Paggi
Director Franco Marazzi
Executive supervisor Rolf Liebermann
Host broadcaster Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana (RTSI)
Interval act Les Joyeux Rossignols &
Les Trois Ménestrels
Number of entries 14 (7 countries performed 2 songs each)
Debuting countries
Voting system Each country had 2 jury member who each had two votes,
only the winner was announced.
Winning song   Switzerland
Eurovision Song Contest
1956 1957►

The Eurovision Song Contest 1956 was the debut edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, held at the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano, Switzerland on Thursday 24 May. Organised by the European Broadcasting Union, the pan-European music competition was an inspiration of the Italian Sanremo Music Festival. Lohengrin Filipello hosted the first contest which lasted approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. Seven countries participated, with each of them performing two songs. Two jury members from all participating countries cast their votes in secret, based on which song was their favourite. Lys Assia won the contest for the host country Switzerland with the song "Refrain".[1]

This first edition of the Eurovision Song Contest included several procedures that were not repeated in any subsequent edition: Two songs for each country, secret voting, double voting of one country on behalf of another, optional inclusion of the jury members' own represented country in their voting, only "Grand Prix" title reception for the winner, and a single male presenter to host the show. The other Contests include: One song for each country, scoreboard display, jury panel from each country, disqualification of the juries' own country from their voting, material award, and a single or additional female presenter.


During a meeting in Monaco in 1955, members of the European Broadcasting Union discussed ideas to organise a pan-European music competition, taking inspiration from the Italian Sanremo Music Festival. From that meeting, the concept of the Eurovision Song Contest was born. A decision was reached to hold the first ever contest in the Swiss resort of Lugano the following year.[1]


Location of the host city in Switzerland.
For more details on the host city, see Lugano.

The chosen venue for the contest was the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano, a city in the south of Switzerland, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy. Lugano, which lies on Lake Lugano, is the 9th largest city of Switzerland by population and the largest Italian-speaking city outside of Italy. It is known for its abundance of European culture and friendly hospitality.[2] That also came out compatible to the event being inspired by the Italian music festival, as well as that the contest was hosted in Italian.

After an influx of capital from Italy from 1945 to well into the 1960s, Lugano grew to become the third largest financial centre in Switzerland. The city also experienced an improvement in transportation infrastructure in the first half of the 20th century. That, together with an increase in hotels, reflected the city's desire to offer better accommodations for tourists.[3]


The first programme was hosted by Lohengrin Filipello and lasted approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. Although it was mainly a radio programme, there were cameras in the studio for the benefit of the few Europeans who possessed a television.[1]

Only solo artists were allowed to enter the contest, and their songs were not to exceed three and a half minutes in length, and were accompanied by a 24-musician orchestra, which was led by Fernando Paggi. The interval act, whistling by the Joyeux Rossignols, had to be extended due to a delay in the voting procedure. It had been strongly recommended that each participating country have a preliminary national song contest.[1]

Voting controversy[edit]

Two jury members from all participating countries travelled to Lugano to cast their vote on the songs in secret, although the jury members from Luxembourg were unable to make it to Lugano. The voting system at this Contest allowed juries to vote for any competing song, including those of their own country. Additionally, the Swiss jury was allowed by the EBU to vote on behalf of the Luxembourg delegation. This system was never repeated.[1]

Lost tapes[edit]

While the contest was shown and recorded for television broadcasting in certain European countries (as television sets were somewhat uncommon still at this time), no copies have survived, with the exception of Lys Assia's repeat performance at the end of the contest. It is one of only two contests to not have survived completely, along with the 1964 contest (of which the tapes were destroyed in a fire).

Participating countries[edit]

Seven countries participated in the first ever contest, each were represented with two songs. Three more countries, Austria, Denmark, and United Kingdom were also expected to take part in the contest, but they missed the submission deadline and therefore could not take part. The BBC's Festival of British Popular Song, which had been intended to choose the United Kingdom entry, was in the end not held until after the Eurovision contest.[1]


Each performance had a conductor who maestro the orchestra.[4] The conductors listed conducted both performances for the indicated countries.


Except for the winning song, the results have never been published. Simon Barclay's book The Complete and Independent Guide to the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 includes a table with what appears to be the results, but the author does not give a source and under the chart he writes that "the votes awarded have never been disclosed."[5]

Draw Country Language[6] Artist Song English translation Place[7]
01  Netherlands Dutch Jetty Paerl "De vogels van Holland" The Birds of Holland 2
02   Switzerland German Lys Assia "Das alte Karussell" The Old Carousel 2
03  Belgium French Fud Leclerc "Messieurs les noyés de la Seine" The Drowned Gentlemen of the Seine 2
04  Germany German Walter Andreas Schwarz "Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück" In The Good Luck Waiting Room 2
05  France French Mathé Altéry "Le temps perdu" Lost Time 2
06  Luxembourg French Michèle Arnaud "Ne crois pas" Do Not Believe 2
07  Italy Italian Franca Raimondi "Aprite le finestre" Open the Windows 2
08  Netherlands Dutch Corry Brokken "Voorgoed voorbij" Over Forever 2
09   Switzerland French Lys Assia "Refrain" Chorus 1
10  Belgium French Mony Marc "Le plus beau jour de ma vie" The Most Beautiful Day of my Life 2
11  Germany German Freddy Quinn "So geht das jede Nacht" That's How It Is Every Night 2
12  France French Dany Dauberson "Il est là" He Is Here 2
13  Luxembourg French Michèle Arnaud "Les amants de minuit" The Lovers of Midnight 2
14  Italy Italian Tonina Torrielli "Amami se vuoi" Love Me If You Want 2

International broadcasts[edit]

The participating national broadcasters sent commentators to the contest, in order to provide coverage of the contest in their own native language. Details of the commentators and the broadcasting station for which they represented are shown in the table below.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Eurovision History - Lugano 1956". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "About Lugano". Lugano-Tourism. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Canton of Lugano in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Barclay, Simon (June 17, 2010). The Complete and Independent Guide to the Eurovision Song Contest 2010. Silverthorn Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4457-8415-1. 
  6. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest 1956". The Diggiloo Thrush. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "Scoreboard results". Eurovision Song Contest 1956. EBU. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Eurovision 1956 Cast and Crew Details". IMDb. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Nederlandse televisiecommentatoren bij het Eurovisie Songfestival". Eurovision Artists (in Dutch). 
  10. ^ "Concours Eurovision de la Chanson 1956" (in French). 23 March 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°00′N 8°57′E / 46.000°N 8.950°E / 46.000; 8.950