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|Eurovision Song Contest 1956|
|Final date||24 May 1956|
|Venue|| Teatro Kursaal
|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)|
|Voting system|| Each country had 2 jury member who each had two votes,
only the winner was announced.
"Refrain" by Lys Assia
|Eurovision Song Contest|
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.
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.
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).
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.
- The Netherlands - Fernando Paggi
- Switzerland - Fernando Paggi
- Belgium - Léo Souris
- Germany - Fernando Paggi
- France - Franck Pourcel
- Luxembourg - Jacques Lassry
- Italy - Gian Stellari
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.
|01||The Netherlands||Jetty Paerl||"De vogels van Holland"||Dutch||The birds of Holland||2|
|02||Switzerland||Lys Assia||"Das alte Karussell"||German||The old carousel||2|
|03||Belgium||Fud Leclerc||"Messieurs les noyés de la Seine"||French||The drowned men of the Seine||2|
|04||Germany||Walter Andreas Schwarz||"Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück"||German||In the Waiting Room for Great Happiness||2|
|05||France||Mathé Altéry||"Le temps perdu"||French||Lost time||2|
|06||Luxembourg||Michèle Arnaud||"Ne crois pas"||French||Don't believe||2|
|07||Italy||Franca Raimondi||"Aprite le finestre"||Italian||Open the windows||2|
|08||The Netherlands||Corry Brokken||"Voorgoed voorbij"||Dutch||Over forever||2|
|10||Belgium||Mony Marc||"Le plus beau jour de ma vie"||French||The most beautiful day of my life||2|
|11||Germany||Freddy Quinn||"So geht das jede Nacht"||German||That's How It Is Every Night||2|
|12||France||Dany Dauberson||"Il est là"||French||He is There||2|
|13||Luxembourg||Michèle Arnaud||"Les amants de minuit"||French||The Midnight Lovers||2|
|14||Italy||Tonina Torrielli||"Amami se vuoi"||Italian||Love me if you want to||2|
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.
- The Netherlands - Piet te Nuyl (NTS)
- Switzerland - Georges Hardy (TSR)
- Belgium - Janine Lambotte (INR), Nand Baert (NIR)
- Germany - Wolf Mittler (ARD)
- France - Michèle Rebel (RTF)
- Luxembourg - Michéle Rebel (Télé-Luxembourg)
- Italy - Franco Marazzi (Programma Nazionale)
- Austria - (non-participating country) - Wolf Mittler (ORF)
- Denmark - (non-participating country) - Gunnar Hansen (Statsradiofonien TV)
- United Kingdom - (non-participating country) - Wilfred Thomas (BBC Television Service)