History of the Eurovision Song Contest

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The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began with an idea by Sergio Pugliese, of the Italian television RAI and then approved by Marcel Bezençon of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The contest was based on the Italian Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.

The first contest took place on 24 May 1956,[1] where seven nations participated. As the Contest progressed, the rules grew increasingly complex and participation levels rose to pass forty nations at the end of the 20th century. As more countries came on board over subsequent decades and technology advanced, the EBU attempted to keep up with national and international trends.

The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s led to a sudden increase in numbers, with many former Eastern Bloc countries queuing up to compete for the first time. This process continued into the 2005 contest, in which both Bulgaria and Moldova made their debut.

Liechtenstein, Vatican City and Kosovo are the only European countries not to have participated; the most recent major European country to take part was the Czech Republic, which made its debut in the 2007 contest. San Marino took part in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade, Serbia, together with Azerbaijan.

Australia made their debut in the 2015 contest and became the first country from the Oceania region (and the second country outside Eurasia overall after Morocco in 1980) to participate in the contest. Although their participation was originally announced as a one-off event, the country was subsequently invited to participate in the 2016 contest.

Competition history[edit]

London. Royal Albert Hall, venue of the 1968 contest
Jerusalem. International Convention Centre, venue of the 1979 and 1999 contests
Oslo. Oslo Spektrum, venue of the 1996 contest
Stockholm. Globen Arena, venue of the 2000 and 2016 contests
Belgrade. Belgrade Arena, venue of the 2008 contest
Malmö. Malmö Arena, venue of the 2013 contest
Edition Date of Final Year Host Broadcaster/s Venue Host City Countries Winner/s
1st 24 May 1956 SSR Teatro Kursaal Switzerland Lugano 7[2]   Switzerland
2nd 3 March 1957 ARD Großer Sendesaal West Germany Frankfurt 10  Netherlands
3rd 12 March 1958 NTS AVRO Studio Netherlands Hilversum  France
4th 11 March 1959 RTF Palais des Festivals France Cannes 11  Netherlands
5th 25 March 1960 BBC Royal Festival Hall United Kingdom London 13  France
6th 18 March 1961 RTF Palais des Festivals France Cannes 16  Luxembourg
7th 1962 CLT Villa Louvigny Luxembourg Luxembourg City  France
8th 23 March 1963 BBC BBC Television Centre United Kingdom London  Denmark
9th 21 March 1964 DR Tivoli Concert Hall Denmark Copenhagen  Italy
10th 20 March 1965 RAI RAI Television Centre Italy Naples 18  Luxembourg
11th 5 March 1966 CLT Villa Louvigny Luxembourg Luxembourg City  Austria
12th 8 April 1967 ORF Hofburg Imperial Palace Austria Vienna 17  United Kingdom
13th 6 April 1968 BBC Royal Albert Hall United Kingdom London  Spain
14th 29 March 1969 TVE Teatro Real Spain Madrid 16  France
 United Kingdom
15th 21 March 1970 NOS RAI Congrescentrum Netherlands Amsterdam 12  Ireland
16th 3 April 1971 RTÉ Gaiety Theatre Republic of Ireland Dublin 18  Monaco
17th 25 March 1972 BBC Usher Hall United Kingdom Edinburgh  Luxembourg
18th 7 April 1973 CLT Nouveau Théâtre Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg City 17
19th 6 April 1974 BBC Brighton Dome United Kingdom Brighton  Sweden
20th 22 March 1975 SR Stockholm International Fairs Sweden Stockholm 19  Netherlands
21st 3 April 1976 NOS Congresgebouw Netherlands The Hague 18  United Kingdom
22nd 7 May 1977 BBC Wembley Conference Centre United Kingdom London  France
23rd 22 April 1978 TF1 Palais des Congrès France Paris 20  Israel
24th 31 March 1979 IBA International Convention Centre Israel Jerusalem 19
25th 19 April 1980 NOS Congresgebouw Netherlands The Hague  Ireland
26th 4 April 1981 RTÉ Royal Dublin Society Republic of Ireland Dublin 20  United Kingdom
27th 24 April 1982 BBC Harrogate International Centre United Kingdom Harrogate 18  Germany
28th 23 April 1983 ARD Rudi Sedlmayer Halle West Germany Munich 20  Luxembourg
29th 5 May 1984 CLT Théâtre Municipal Luxembourg Luxembourg City 19  Sweden
30th 4 May 1985 SVT Scandinavium Sweden Gothenburg  Norway
31st 3 May 1986 NRK Grieg Hall Norway Bergen 20  Belgium
32nd 9 May 1987 RTBF Centenary Palace Belgium Brussels 22  Ireland
33rd 30 April 1988 RTÉ Royal Dublin Society Republic of Ireland Dublin 21   Switzerland
34th 6 May 1989 SSR Palais de Beaulieu Switzerland Lausanne 22  Yugoslavia
35th 5 May 1990 JRT Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Zagreb  Italy
36th 4 May 1991 RAI Studio 15 di Cinecittà Italy Rome  Sweden
37th 9 May 1992 SVT Malmömässan Sweden Malmö 23  Ireland
38th 15 May 1993 RTÉ Green Glens Arena Republic of Ireland Millstreet 25
39th 30 April 1994 Point Depot Republic of Ireland Dublin
40th 13 May 1995 23  Norway
41st 18 May 1996 NRK Oslo Spektrum Norway Oslo  Ireland
42nd 3 May 1997 RTÉ Point Depot Republic of Ireland Dublin 25  United Kingdom
43rd 9 May 1998 BBC National Indoor Arena United Kingdom Birmingham  Israel
44th 29 May 1999 IBA International Convention Centre Israel Jerusalem 23  Sweden
45th 13 May 2000 SVT Globen Arena Sweden Stockholm 24  Denmark
46th 12 May 2001 DR Parken Stadium Denmark Copenhagen 23  Estonia
47th 25 May 2002 ETV Saku Suurhall Estonia Tallinn 24  Latvia
48th 24 May 2003 LTV Skonto Hall Latvia Riga 26  Turkey
49th 15 May 2004 TRT Abdi İpekçi Arena Turkey Istanbul 36  Ukraine
50th 21 May 2005 NTU Kiev Sports Palace Ukraine Kiev 39  Greece
51st 20 May 2006 ERT Olympic Indoor Hall Greece Athens 37  Finland
52nd 12 May 2007 YLE Hartwall Arena Finland Helsinki 42  Serbia
53rd 24 May 2008 RTS Belgrade Arena Serbia Belgrade 43  Russia
54th 16 May 2009 C1R Olimpiyskiy Arena Russia Moscow 42  Norway
55th 29 May 2010 NRK Telenor Arena Norway Oslo 39  Germany
56th 14 May 2011 NDR/ARD Düsseldorf Arena Germany Düsseldorf 43  Azerbaijan
57th 26 May 2012 İTV Baku Crystal Hall Azerbaijan Baku 42  Sweden
58th 18 May 2013 SVT Malmö Arena Sweden Malmö 39  Denmark
59th 10 May 2014 DR B&W Halls Denmark Copenhagen 37  Austria
60th 23 May 2015 ORF Wiener Stadthalle Austria Vienna 40  Sweden
61st 14 May 2016 SVT Globen Arena Sweden Stockholm 42  Ukraine
62nd 13 May 2017 UA:PBC International Exhibition Centre Ukraine Kiev  Portugal
63rd 12 May 2018 RTP Altice Arena Portugal Lisbon 43  Israel
64th 18 May 2019 KAN Expo Tel Aviv Israel Tel Aviv 41  Netherlands
65th 16 May 2020 AVROTROS
Rotterdam Ahoy Netherlands Rotterdam

The songs[edit]

The earliest period in Eurovision history is marked by the style of songs which participated and the manner in which the show itself was presented. Famous musical and film stars would participate without prejudice, with Italian winners of the Sanremo Festival and such British names as Patricia Bredin and Bryan Johnson. With a live orchestra the norm in the early years and simple sing-a-long songs on every radio station, the Contest grew into a favourite amongst almost all age groups across the continent. Iconic songs such as "Volare" and France Gall's "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" hit the sales charts in many countries after their Eurovision performance.

In the beginning, it was obvious for the participants that they should sing in their country's national language. However, as the Swedish entry in 1965, "Absent Friend" was sung in English, the EBU set very strict rules on the language in which the songs could be performed. National languages had to be used in all lyrics, including Maltese when the island nation made its debut. Songwriters across Europe soon tagged onto the notion that success would only come if the judges could understand the content, resulting in such entries as "Boom-Bang-A-Bang" and "La La La". The lyrics were allowed to contain occasional phrases in other languages, which was utilized for example by the Yugoslavian song in 1969. In 1973, the rules on language use was relaxed, in the following year ABBA would win with "Waterloo".

Those "freedom of language" rules would be soon reversed in 1977, to return with apparent permanent status in the 1999 contest, with the intervening years waning from highlights to dead-weight years. The "swinging sixties" and punk scenes were all but missed by the contemporary Eurovision periods, whilst the 1980s saw an increase in balladry with an almost blanket disregard for electronica or guitar-based pop. Other than heavily infused pop versions, rap has been next to completely ignored.

One result of the attempt to modernise the songs in the Contest was the abolition of the obligatory use of the live orchestra, to which all songs had to perform. This decision was made in 1997 and removed the automatic requirement for songs to be re-composed for playback with a live orchestra. As of 1999, the host country has not been obliged to provide a live orchestra and there has not been one since. No attempt has been made to return the Contest to the days of symphonic arrangements and violins. Live music is not allowed. This rule most likely exists because there is not enough time to wire the instruments during the short break between the songs. On the other hand, a backing tape may have no voices on it, singing must still be done live. Before 1997 backing tracks were allowed, but only if all instruments on tape were featured on stage. This explains the odd situation in 1996, when Gina G, entrant for the United Kingdom, had two computer screens on stage.

Other than the earliest contests, each and every entry has been fixed at a maximum three minutes in length.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eurovision – History". Eurovision. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  2. ^ 7 countries performed 2 songs each

External links[edit]