The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest running television shows in the world. It was on the 24th of May, 1956, that Europe saw the first ever Eurovision Song Contest. After all those years, the contest is one of the most typical European traditions and without doubt, Europe’s favorite TV show! In 2005, the Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 50th anniversary by picking the best entry to date and in 2015 the 60th anniversary with Eurovision Song Contest’s Greatest Hits in London as well as with a conference.
The history of the Eurovision Song Contest: Already for some 60 years years, the Eurovision Song Contest is Europe’s favorite TV show. After more than five decades featuring thousands of songs, the contest has become a modern classic, strongly embedded into Europe’s collective mind.
Download: The Rules of the 1956 Eurovision Song Contest (.pdf) (copyright EBU)
Eurovision Song Contest
|Ideato da / Based on||EBU ad-hoc committee led by Marcel Bezençon / Sanremo Music Festival|
|Presentatore (i)||Elenco dei presentatori|
|Composizione Musicale||Marc-Antoine Charpentier|
|Musica di Apertura||Te Deum (Prelude (Marche en rondeau))|
|Paesi partecipanti||Elenco dei paesi partecipanti|
|Lingua||Inglese e Francese|
|Edizioni||64 edizioni, 92 live shows – 58 edizioni con una puntata (1956-2003), due puntate (2004-2007) o tre puntate (2008-ad oggi) per ogni edizione|
|Sede||Elenco delle città ospitante|
|Durata||~2 ore (Semi-Finale)
~4 ore (Finale)
|Produttore||European Broadcasting Union (EBU-UER) e dall’emittente pubbliche del Paese ospitante|
|Format||4:3 576i (SDTV) (1956–1999)
16:9 576i (SDTV) (1999-present)
1080i (HDTV) (2006–present)
|Anni||24 May 1956 – ad oggi|
|Gare correlate||Eurovision Song Contest Previews (UK: 1971–1994)
Eurovision Young Musicians (1982 – ad oggi)
Eurovision Young Dancers (1985 – ad oggi)
Junior Eurovision Song Contest(2003 – ad oggi)
Eurovision Dance Contest (2007 – 2008)
Eurovision Magic Circus Show (2010–2012)
Eurovision Choir (2017 – ad oggi)
Eurovision Asia Song Contest (2019 – ad oggi)
The American Song Contest (progettato per il 2021)
Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light (2020)
|Siti Web||Official website
L’Eurovision Song Contest (in francese Concours Eurovision de la Chanson), spesso abbreviato in ESC o semplicemente Eurovision, è una manifestazione musicale nata nel 1956 a Lugano organizzata dall’European Broadcasting Union (Unione Europea di Radiodiffusione – Abbreviazione EBU (Inglese), UER (Francese, Italiano)) ed ispirata al Festival di Sanremo, che si tiene annualmente tra i paesi membri attivi della EBU-UER, creato per aiutare a promuovere l’unità dopo la seconda guerra mondiale e pensato per essere apolitico.
Ogni paese membro presenta un brano da eseguire in diretta televisiva e in seguito vota per le canzoni degli altri paesi in modo da determinare la canzone vincitrice della competizione.
Il concorso è stato trasmesso ogni anno senza interruzioni in tutto il mondo sin dalla sua inaugurazione nel 1956 ed è uno dei programmi televisivi più longevi del mondo. È anche uno dei più seguiti eventi non sportivi in tutto il mondo, con dati di ascolto negli ultimi anni che oscillano tra 100 milioni e 600 milioni a livello internazionale, crescendo enormemente di livello. L’ESC viene trasmesso in diretta televisiva sui canali principali delle emittenti nazionali e in Eurovisione, anche al di fuori dell’Europa in paesi non in concorso come Argentina, Australia, Brasile, Canada, Cina, Colombia, Egitto, India, Giappone, Giordania, Messico, Nuova Zelanda, Filippine, Corea del Sud, Taiwan, Thailandia, Stati Uniti, Uruguay e Venezuela. Dal 2000, il concorso viene trasmesso anche su Internet con più di 74.000 persone in quasi 140 paesi che hanno guardato l’edizione del 2006 online e dal 2016 in diretta sul canale ufficiale YouTube dell’evento, che nel 2019 conta circa 2,9 milioni di iscritti.
In lingua italiana è stato comunemente usato il termine Eurofestival, mentre le due denominazioni ufficiali in italiano riconosciute dall’Eurovisione sono Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone, usata per l’edizione del 1965 tenutasi a Napoli e Concorso Eurovisione della Canzone, usata per l’edizione del 1991 tenutasi a Roma nello studio 15 di Cinecittà.
Il 23 maggio 2015 l’attuale executive supervisor dell’evento Jon Ola Sand rivela che l’ESC ha ricevuto il Guinness World Record per essere lo spettacolo musicale televisivo annuale in corso in onda da più anni consecutivi.
Fra gli artisti, la cui carriera internazionale è stata lanciata, grazie alla partecipazione all’ESC troviamo il nostro Domenico Modugno, che arrivò terzo con il brano “Nel blu dipinto di blu” nel 1958, gli ABBA, che vinsero il concorso per la Svezia nel 1974 con “Waterloo“, Céline Dion, che vinse per la Svizzera nel 1988 con “Ne Partez pas sans moi“, e lo spagnolo Julio Iglesias, che ha venduto oltre 300 milioni di dischi in tutto il mondo.
L’Europa soffriva ancora delle ferite della guerra e la televisione stava muovendo i primi passi ma già l’Unione Europea di Radiodiffusione (l’attuale EBU-UER) era alla ricerca di un programma televisivo che potesse coinvolgere diverse nazioni. Il comitato creato appositamente, su proposta di Sergio Pugliese, decise di puntare su di una gara canora che prendeva come modello il Festival di San Remo da trasmettere simultaneamente in tutti i paesi coinvolti, idea che piacque a Marcel Bezençon. Dopo vari incontri in varie sedi nel 1955 si stabilì la data in cui avrebbe preso il via Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone detto anche nei paesi anglofoni Eurovision Song Contest.
Comunque passano gli anni ma non perde un grammo di fascino. Da quando Marcel Bezençon (presidente del Comitato di Programmi EBU-UER) alla fine di Gennaio 1955, ha approvato il “Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone”, basato sull’attuale Festival di Sanremo, quel che più è cambiato – in 60 anni – è la competizione, ma la gara fra tanti paesi resta più o meno la stessa e continua a chiamare davanti alla tv e su internet il pubblico del tutto il mondo. Poi c’è una bella fetta di popolazione adulta che le sa tutte (le canzoni). Basta un attimo, tu dici “Waterloo” o “Nel blu dipinto di blu” e parte la cantata. Perché sono state la colonna sonora di una stagione della vita in cui si scoprivano il mondo e la tivù e spesso erano la stessa cosa. E chi se li scorda. Un’infinità di brani, in 59 anni. Alcuni indimenticabili. Qui c’è la possibilità di riascoltarli, ricordarli e di approfondire quello della nostra infanzia.
The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la chanson) is an international song competition, organised annually by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and featuring participants representing primarily European countries. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio, transmitted to national broadcasters via the EBU’s Eurovision and Euroradio networks, with competing countries then casting votes for the other countries’ songs to determine a winner.
Based on the Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy since 1951, Eurovision has been held every year since 1956, with the exception of the cancelled 2020 edition, making it the longest-running annual international televised music competition. Active members of the EBU, as well as invited associate members, are eligible to compete in the contest, and as of 2019, 52 countries have participated at least once. Originally consisting of a single evening event, the contest has expanded greatly as new countries joined, leading to the introduction of relegation procedures in the 1990s and eventually the creation of semi-finals in the 2000s. As of 2020, Germany has competed more times than any other country, having participated in all but one edition, while Ireland holds the record for the most victories, with seven wins in total.
The contest has experienced criticism from some quarters with regards to its artistic quality, spanning ethnic and international styles, and claims regarding a geopolitical element in the voting system and the competing entries, with varying relations between both participating countries and other territories’ broadcasters. Several controversial moments, such as participating countries withdrawing at a late stage, censorship of segments of the contest by broadcasters, and political events impacting contest participation, have also been experienced in past editions. Eurovision has gained great popularity since its first edition, considered in particular as having become part of LGBT culture, resulting in a large active fan base and influence on popular culture, including television and film, both in Europe and worldwide.
Performing at the Eurovision Song Contest often provides artists with a local career boost and in some cases long-lasting international success. Several of the best-selling music artists in the world have competed in past editions, including ABBA, Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias and Olivia Newton-John, and some of the world’s best-selling singles have received their first international performance on the Eurovision stage. One of the world’s longest-running television programmes, the contest has been broadcast in countries across all continents, and has been available online via the official Eurovision website since 2000. Eurovision features among the world’s most watched non-sporting events every year, with hundreds of millions of viewers globally, and has spawned and inspired similar contests internationally.
- 1955 The concept of the Eurovision Song Contest was presented by EBU Director Marcel Bezençon
- 1956 The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland, on 24 May
- 1958 Italy’s Domenico Modugno finishes 3rd with Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu, better known as Volare. It would become the most covered song in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest
- 1964 A demonstrator manages to reach the stage during the live broadcast. Unfortunately, there is very little archive material of the 1964 contest available
- 1968 The first ever Eurovision Song Contest broadcast in colour
- 1969 A controversial outcome, as Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France all finish first
- 1974 ABBA wins for Sweden. They would become the most successful Eurovision Song Contest winners ever
- 1975 A new voting system is being introduced. Each country gives 1 to 8, 10 and 12 points to its top-10
- 1977 The contest has to be postponed from April to May due to a strike of cameramen at the BBC
- 1979 Israel wins the contest for the second time in a row
- 1980 Last year’s winner Israel could not host the contest and the Netherlands offered to take over the production The Eurovision Song Contest celebrates its 25th anniversary
- 1986 13-year old Sandra Kim, who earlier claimed to be 15, wins for Belgium. She would be the youngest winner ever Luxembourg’s entry L’amour De Ma Vie is the 500th song at the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956
- 1987 Johnny Logan, representing Ireland, wins the Eurovision Song Contest for the second time
- 1988 Canadian singer Céline Dion wins for Switzerland. She would become one of the world’s most popular singers
- 1993 Representatives from seven countries compete in a regional qualification for three open slots at the contest. As a result, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia took part for the first time
- 1994 As many as seven new countries take part: Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia
- 1997 Ireland hosts the contest after winning for the third time in four years The first experiments with televoting take place
- 1998 Dana International sparks controversy, being the first transsexual to win the contest
- 1999 For the first time, there is no orchestra at the Eurovision Song Contest
- 2002 For the first time, the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in eastern Europe, as Estonia hosts the event
- 2004 For the first time ever, a televised Semi-Final takes place in the lead up to the Eurovision Song Contest A new, generic logo is introduced
- 2005 In a spectacular live show from Copenhagen, Europe celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest ABBA’s Waterloo is chosen as best Eurovision Song Contest song from the past 50 years
- 2006 Finland wins the contest after waiting for victory a record 45 years Ireland’s Brian Kennedy performs the 1,000th song at the Eurovision Song Contest since 1956
- 2008 For the first time, two Semi-Finals take place in the lead-up to the Final A new record of 43 countries is represented
- 2009 Professional juries are being reintroduced in the Final. They have a 50% stake in the outcome
- 2012 Winner Loreen turns her song Euphoria into a hit in over 20 countries, becoming one of the biggest Eurovision Song Contest hits in the history of the show
- 2015 The BBC hosts Eurovision’s Greatest Hits in London, to celebrate 60 years of Eurovision Song Contest The contest’s official YouTube channel (youtube.com/eurovision) passes the one billion video views
FACT SHEET HISTORY
• The first ever Eurovision Song Contest was held on the 24 May, 1956, in Lugano, Switzerland
• In 59 years, over 1,400 songs have competed in the Eurovision Song Contest
• Noel Kelehan conducted five winners (1980, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1996)
• Dutch conductor Dolf van der Linden conducted for seven different countries (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland
• Johnny Logan won the Eurovision Song Contest three times. In 1980 and 1987 he represented Ireland as performer and won both times, in 1992 he wrote Linda Martin’s winning entry Why Me?
• Poland made the most impressive debut in 1994, when Edyta Gorniak came second with To Nie Ja, closely followed by Serbia’s victory in 2007. Although Serbia & Montenegro had been represented twice before, it was the first time that Serbia had taken part as an independent country
• Norway could be found at the bottom of the list as many as 10 times! Its unfortunate performers came last in 1963, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1990, 1997, 2001 and 2004. Nevertheless, they also won three times (in 1985, 1995 and 2009)
• Ireland has won a record seven times, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom 5 times each. Sweden and the Netherlands have both won 4 times
• ABBA is the most successful Eurovision Song Contest winner. The Swedish pop band won the contest in 1974
• In 2008, a record number of 43 countries took part, just like in 2011
• The most covered Eurovision Song Contest song is Domenico Modugno’s Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu, also known as Volare. The song has been covered by famous stars such as Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard, David Bowie and many others
• Televoting was introduced in 1997
• In 2004, the first televised Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final was held. In 2008, a second Semi-Final was introduced
• During the Final of 2014, more than 5 million tweets were posted with the hashtag #eurovision, peaking at more than 40,000 tweets per minute when Conchita Wurst performed Rise Like A Phoenix
• The 2014 Contest reached 195 million people in more than 45 countries. For the first time ever, more than one million people tuned in to the Eurovision Song Contest on line.
In a nutshell: The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began as the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon of the EBU. The Contest was based on Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.
The first Contest was held on 24 May 1956, when seven nations participated. With a live orchestra, the norm in the early years, and simple sing-along songs on every radio station, the Contest grew into a true pan-European tradition.
Excusez-moi? 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. Song writers 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. In 1973, the rules on language use were relaxed, and 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.
Your votes please The voting systems used in the Contest have changed throughout the years. The modern system has been in place since 1975. Voters award a set of points from 1 to 8, then 10 and finally 12 to songs from other countries — with the favourite being awarded the now famous douze points. Historically, a country’s set of votes was decided by an internal jury, but in 1997 five countries experimented with televoting, giving members of the public in those countries the opportunity to vote en masse for their favourite songs. The experiment was a success and from 1998 all countries were encouraged to use televoting wherever possible.
Nowadays members of the public may also vote by SMS. Whichever method of voting is used – jury, telephone or SMS – countries may not cast votes for their own songs.
Expanding with Semi-Finals 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 has continued to this day with more and more countries joining. For this reason, in 2004 the Semi-Final format was introduced by the EBU which turned into two Semi-Finals for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008. Now all countries, except the ‘Big Five’ – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom – together with the host country, must be in a Semi-Final top-10 to qualify for the Final.
60 years and counting In 2015, the Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 60th anniversary. The BBC hosted a grand anniversary show in London, featuring over a dozen former participants. And to honour the country’s Eurovision Song Contest commitment for over 30 years, the organisers admitted Australia to participate for the first time ever.
Despite the ‘grand old lady’ being of respectable age, her pension is nowhere in sight, as the Eurovision Song Contest is still the most modern live TV entertainment spectacle in the world.
Facts & Figures With a legacy of 62 years, which brought hundreds of hours of live television and nearly 1,500 songs from some 50 countries, the Eurovision Song Contest is a great source of historic facts and mind-blowing figures. On this ever-expanding page, we are sharing the most significant ones with you.
The figures The Eurovision Song Contest started with just seven participating countries in 1956. It was the only contest with two songs per country. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, more countries wanted to join in the 1990s. In 1993 and 1994, a then-record 25 countries took part. In 1996, a pre-qualification heat was organised to reduce 29 participants to 23, while host country Norway automatically qualified for the contest as 24th country. The challenge was solved in 2004, when a Semi-Final was introduced. Growing interest lead to the introduction of a second Semi-Final in 2008. As a result, a record number of 43 countries took part in 2008 for the first time.
Until 2017, nearly 1,500 songs have taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest (not including the seven songs that didn’t make it in the 1996 pre-qualification round). In 2006, Ireland’s Brian Kennedy delivered the 1,000th entry to the contest, appropriately titled Every Song is a Cry for Love. After the 2017 contest, 1,479 songs will have been performed. If you would listen to all of them without a break, you would be sitting up for nearly 72 hours.
In 2001, the largest audience ever attended the Eurovision Song Contest. Almost 38,000 people gathered at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium to witness the first ever Estonian victory.
Ratings of the Eurovision Song Contest have varied greatly over the past decades. In 2016, some 204 million people saw at least one of the three shows in whole or in part.
With seven victories, Ireland is the most successful country at the contest. Sweden won the contest six times, while Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom won five times.
Poland made the most impressive debut in 1994, when Edyta Gorniak came second with To Nie Ja, closely followed by Serbia’s victory in 2007. Although Serbia & Montenegro was represented twice before, it was the first time that Serbia took part as an independent country.
Norway could be found at the bottom of the scoreboard as many as eleven times. The unfortunates came last in 1963, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1990, 1997, 2001, 2004 and in the Grand Final of 2012. Nevertheless, they also won three times, in 1985, 1995 and 2009.
Even though the Eurovision Song Contest took place 64 times, it has 67 winners. In 1969, 4 countries topped the scoreboard with an equal amount of points; the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and France. Lacking rules to resolve tie situations, the EBU had to declare all 4 contestants as the winner. Thank goodness — tie rules were introduced shortly after.
2020 marked the first time the Contest had to be cancelled in 64 years. Uncertainty created by the spread of COVID-19 throughout Europe – and the restrictions put in place by the governments of the participating broadcasters and Dutch authorities – meant the live event could not continue as planned. The health of artists, staff, fans and visitors from Europe and the world was at the heart of the decision.
The facts In 2015, the Eurovision Song Contest was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running Longest Running Annual TV Music Competition.
ABBA is the most successful Eurovision Song Contest winner. The Swedish pop band won the contest in 1974 and has enjoyed phenomenal success ever since, despite officially splitting up in 1983.
The most covered Eurovision Song Contest song is Domenico Mudugno‘s Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu, also known as Volare. The song has been covered by famous stars such as Dean Martin, Cliff Richard, David Bowie and many more.
Johnny Logan won the Eurovision Song Contest three times. In 1980 and 1987 he represented Ireland as performer and won both times, with Hold Me Now and What’s Another Year, in 1992 he wrote Linda Martin’s winning entry Why Me?
In 2014, Valentina Monetta took part for San Marino for the third time in a row and… qualified for the Grand Final! She will participate in the 2017 contest for the fourth time!
in 2011, Lena, the winner of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, decided to defend her title on home ground – something only two people have done in the history of the contest.
Until 1998, each act was supported by a live orchestra and every country brought their own conductor. Noel Kelehan conducted the orchestra of five winners, in 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1996. Dutch conductor Dolf van der Linde conducting for a record seven countries; Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
Only three women conducted the orchestra at the Eurovision Song Contest. Nurit Nirsch conducted the Israeli entries of 1973 and 1978, Monica Dominique conducted the Swedish 1973 entry and Anita Kerr appeared in front of the orchestra for Switzerland in 1985.
German songwriter and composer Ralph Siegel is a true Eurovision addict. He took part a whopping 21 times. He did so most recently in 2014, granting San Marino their first qualification to the Grand Final. His 22nd participation is this year (2017), having written the song for San Marino. He won once, in 1982, with the famous Ein Bißchen Frieden.