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Eurovision Song Contest 1956
ESC 1956 logo
Theme None
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 7
Returning countries None
Withdrawing countries None
Voting system Each country had 2 jury member who each had two votes,

only the winner was announced.

Nul points None
Winner Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
"Refrain" by Lys Assia
Eurovision Song Contest
◄None Wiki Eurovision Heart (Infobox).svg 1957
The Eurovision Song Contest 1956 was the first 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 inspired by 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.

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.


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.


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. The event was also inspired by the Italian music festival, as well as that the contest was hosted in Italian.


The programme was hosted by Lohengrin Filipello, making it the only Eurovision Song Contest to have a solo male presenter and up until the 2017 edition with a male trio, the only edition without a female presenter. The programme lasted approximately one 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.

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.

Voting controversy

Two jury members from each participating country travelled to Lugano to cast their vote on the songs, except for Luxembourg which was unable to send juries. The EBU conducted a secret voting and a system allowing the juries to also vote for the two songs representing their own country, as well as allowing the Swiss jury to vote on behalf of Luxembourg. Claims were raised that the Swiss entry won as a result of these procedures. This system was never repeated, as from the second edition of the contest onwards the voting is visible, excludes the juries own competing country from their voting and includes individual jury members for each country.

Lost tapes

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

Seven countries participated in the first ever contest, each were represented with two songs. Two more countries, Austria, and Denmark were also expected to take part in the contest, but they missed the submission deadline and therefore could not take part. Although it was thought that the United Kingdom had also missed the participation deadline, it was later revealed by the EBU in January 2017 that it was a mythical fact created by fans of the contest. The EBU further went on to explain that the "Festival of British Popular Song", a contest created by the BBC for the United Kingdom, was the inspiration that brought in changes to the contest format from 1957.



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 rankings, but the author does not give a source. Under the chart he writes that "the votes awarded have never been disclosed". According to writer Jan Feddersen, "Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück" was probably voted No. 2 behind Lys Assia.

Draw Country Performer(s) Song Language Translation Place Points
01 Flag of the Netherlands.svg The Netherlands Jetty Paerl "De vogels van Holland" Dutch The birds of Holland 2
02 Flag of Switzerland Switzerland Lys Assia "Das alte Karussell" German The old carousel 2
03 Flag of Belgium Belgium Fud Leclerc "Messieurs les noyés de la Seine" French The drowned men of the Seine 2
04 Flag of Germany Germany Walter Andreas Schwarz "Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück" German In the Waiting Room for Great Happiness 2
05 France France Mathé Altéry "Le temps perdu" French Lost time 2
06 Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Michèle Arnaud "Ne crois pas" French Don't believe 2
07 Flag of Italy Italy Franca Raimondi "Aprite le finestre" Italian Open the windows 2
08 Flag of the Netherlands.svg The Netherlands Corry Brokken "Voorgoed voorbij" Dutch Over forever 2
09 Flag of Switzerland Switzerland Lys Assia "Refrain" French - 1
10 Flag of Belgium Belgium Mony Marc "Le plus beau jour de ma vie" French The most beautiful day of my life 2
11 Flag of Germany Germany Freddy Quinn "So geht das jede Nacht" German That's How It Is Every Night 2
12 France France Dany Dauberson "Il est là" French He is There 2
13 Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg Michèle Arnaud "Les amants de minuit" French The Midnight Lovers 2
14 Flag of Italy Italy Tonina Torrielli "Amami se vuoi" Italian Love me if you want to 2

International broadcasts

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 that they represented are shown in the table below.

External links