ESC LUGANO 1956 (1ª)

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  • Dates – Grand Final: Thursday, 24 May 1956 – 20:00 CET
  • Host – Venue & Location: Teatro Kursaal (Casinò Lugano), Lugano, 🇨🇭Switzerland
  • Presenter (s): Lohengrin Filipello
  • Musical Director: Fernando Paggi
  • Director: Franco Marazzi
  • Executive Producer: Rolf Liebermann
  • Multicamera Director: Franco Marazzi
  • Host Broadcaster: Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana (RTSI) Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR)
  • Interval Act: Les Joyeux Rossignols & Les Trois Ménestrels
  • Participants – Number of entries: 14 (7 countries performed 2 songs each)
  • Debuting countries: All [🇧🇪 Belgium (1ª), 🇫🇷 France (1ª), 🇩🇪 Germany (1ª), 🇮🇹 Italy (1ª), 🇱🇺 Luxembourg (1ª), 🇳🇱 The Netherlands (1ª), 🇨🇭Switzerland (1ª)]
  • Return:
  • Non-returning countries:
  • Vote – Voting system: Two-member juries from each country rated songs between one and ten points.
  • Nil Points:
  • Winning song: 1f3c6 “Refrain” – Lys Assia –🇨🇭Switzerland (1ª)

ESC_1956_logo

About. The first ever Eurovision Song Contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland, at the Teatro Kursaal, on 24th of May 1956.

In 1955 a meeting was held in Monaco, where the members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) discussed the idea to create a pan-European music competition, inspired by the Italian Sanremo Music Festival. They decided to hold the first Eurovision Song Contest in the Swiss resort of Lugano the following year.

The first edition of Eurovision Song Contest was very different from today’s contest: Seven countries participated with two songs each. The voting was secret and never made public, so no scoreboard. Luxembourg asked Switzerland to vote on its behalf, and Switzerland won. The programme only lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes (The Grand Final of Eurovision 2015 lasted 4 hours). Only one artist was allowed on stage, and songs couldn’t be longer than 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3:00 minutes today).

The programme was mainly made for radio, but one single camera was in the studio for the benefit of the few Europeans who possessed a television.

And the first winner of Eurovision Song Contest: Lys Assia from Switzerland with the song “Refrain”.

The first ever contest. Inspired by the Italian Sanremo Festival, the idea to organise a pan-European musicial competition was born at a meeting of the European Broadcasting Union in Monaco in 1955. It was decided that the first ever Eurovision Song Contest would be hosted the following year in the Swiss resort of Lugano. The 1956 Eurovision Song Contest was primarily a radio show, although some cameras were taping the contest for the few Europeans who had a television set at that time.

Lohengrin Filipello hosted the programme, which lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. The seven participating countries each submitted two entries. The songs of the contest were not to exceed three and a half minutes, and the performers were accompanied by an orchestra of 24 musicians, led by Fernando Paggi.

Switzerland wins!. The winning song, as announced by the head of the jury, was “Refrain”, performed by Lys Assia from Switzerland.  Lys Assia is the only Swiss contestant to have ever won the Eurovision Song Contest, as Switzerland’s other winner, Céline Dion, is French-Canadian.

Facts & figures: The broadcasters from Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom missed the deadline for participating in the first ever Eurovision Song Contest and only appeared one year later. Only solo artists were allowed to enter the contest. Groups were initially banned – a rule which would only be abolished in the 1970s; All participating countries sent two jury members to Lugano in order to vote secretly on the songs. The jury members from Luxembourg could not make it to Lugano, so the EBU allowed Swiss nationals to vote on their behalf. The juries were allowed to vote for whatever country they wished to, including their own; The scores of the voting have never been made public, leaving room for lots of speculation. Attempts to reconstruct the voting by interviewing jury members over the past five decades did not lead to any reliable outcome.

r/O  country  participant (s) song – Translate – Language Points   rank
01 🇳🇱 The Netherlands NTS Jetty Paerl De vogels van Holland (The birds of Holland) Dutch 02
02 🇨🇭 Switzerland TSR Lys Assia Das alte Karussell (The old Carousel) German 02
03 🇧🇪 Belgium INR/NIR Fud Leclerc Messieurs les noyés de la Seine (The drowned gentlemen of the Seine) French 02
04 🇩🇪 Germany ARD Walter Andreas Schwarz Im wartesaal zum großen Glück (In the good luck waiting room) German 02
05 🇫🇷 France RTF Mathé Altéry Le temps perdu (Lost time) French 02
06 🇱🇺 Luxembourg CLT Michèle Arnaud Ne crois pas (Do not believe) French 02
07 🇮🇹 Italy RAI Franca Raimondi Aprite le finestre (Open the windows) Italian 02
08 🇳🇱 The Netherlands NTS Corry Brokken Voorgoed voorbij (Over forever) Dutch 02
09 🇨🇭 Switzerland TSR Lys Assia Refrain (Chorus) French 01
10 🇧🇪 Belgium INR/NIR Mony Marc Le plus beau jour de ma vie (The most beautiful day of my life) French 02
11 🇩🇪 Germany ARD Freddy Quinn So geht das jede Nacht (That’s how it is every night) German 02
12 🇫🇷 France RTF Dany Dauberson Il est là (He is here) German 02
13 🇱🇺 Luxembourg CLT Michèle Arnaud Les amants de minuit (The lovers of midnight) French 02
14 🇮🇹 Italy RAI Tonina Torrielli Amami se vuoi (Love me if you want) Italian 02

Missed participation:

• 🇬🇧 United Kingdom: “Ev’rybody falls in love with someone” (English) – Denis Lotis & The Keynotes / “Little Ship” (English) – Shirley Abicair. 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.

Participation  mapTransmitirá a 2º semifinal noutro horário. Participating countries

In 1955 a meeting was held in Monaco, where the members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) discussed the idea to create a pan-European music competition, inspired by the Italian Sanremo Music Festival. They decided to hold the first Eurovision Song Contest in the Swiss resort of Lugano the following year.

The first edition of Eurovision Song Contest was very different from today’s contest: Seven countries participated with two songs each. The voting was secret and never made public, so no scoreboard. Luxembourg asked Switzerland to vote on its behalf, and Switzerland won. The programme only lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes (The Grand Final of Eurovision 2015 lasted 4 hours). Only one artist was allowed on stage, and songs couldn’t be longer than 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3:00 minutes today).

The programme was mainly made for radio, but one single camera was in the studio for the benefit of the few Europeans who possessed a television.

And the first winner of Eurovision Song Contest: Lys Assia from Switzerland with the song “Refrain”.

ESC 1956 Scoreboard Ι Detailed voting results*:

Scoreboard - Eurovision Song Contest 1956

* The scores of the voting have never been made public, leaving room for lots of speculation. Attempts to reconstruct the voting by interviewing jury members over the following five decades did not lead to any reliable outcome.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1956 was the first edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest, organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and host broadcasters the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) and Radiotelevisione svizzera (RSI). The contest, originally titled the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne 1956 (Italian: Gran Premio Eurovisione 1956 della Canzone Europea, English: Grand Prix of the Eurovision Song Competition), was held on 24 May 1956 at the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano, Switzerland and hosted by Swiss television presenter Lohengrin Filipello, the only occasion in which the contest was compered by a solo male host.

Inspired principally by the Italian Sanremo Music Festival, held annually since 1951, the concept of a televised European song contest, initially proposed by Italian broadcaster RAI, was formulated by an EBU committee led by Swiss broadcaster and executive Marcel Bezençon. Following approval at the EBU’s General Assembly in 1955, the rules and structure of the contest were agreed upon. Several of the rules utilised in this first contest would subsequently be altered for future editions, and it remains the only edition in which each country was represented by two songs, with only solo performers allowed to compete, and a voting process which was held in secret and where juries could vote for the entries from their own country.

Seven countries participated in the inaugural edition of the contest, and the first winner was the host country Switzerland, with the song “Refrain” performed by Lys Assia. The result was determined by an assembled jury composed of two jurors from each country, with each juror ranking each song between 1 and 10 points. Only the winning country and song were announced at the conclusion of the event, with the results of the remaining participants unknown. Broadcast on television and radio via the Eurovision network in ten countries, no video footage of the event is known to exist, bar clips of the reprise performance of the winning song; the majority of the broadcast is however available in audio.

1.Origins. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) was formed in 1950 among 23 organisations with the aim of facilitating creative cooperation and the exchange of television programmes.[1] The word “Eurovision” was first used as a telecommunications term in the United Kingdom in 1951, in reference to a programme by the British Broadcasting Corportation (BBC) being relayed by Dutch television, and was subsequently used as the title for the union’s new transmission network upon its creation in 1954. Following the formation of the EBU a number of notable events were transmitted through its networks in several European countries, including Belgium, France, West Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. A series of international exchange programmes were subsequently organised for 1954, with this “European Television Season” relayed live across Europe through the Eurovision network.

Following this series of transmissions, a “Programme Committee” was set up within the EBU to investigate new initiatives for cooperation between broadcasters each year, with Marcel Bezençon of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) serving as the committee’s first President. This committee agreed to study the concept for a new televised European song contest during a meeting in January 1955, a concept initially proposed by the Italian broadcaster RAI and inspired by the broadcaster’s Sanremo Music Festival, held annually since 1951. The new European contest was subsequently approved at the EBU’s annual General Assembly in October 1955, leading to the creation of the European Grand Prix.

Teatro Kursaal, Lugano – host venue of the 1956 contest

2.Location. The first Eurovision Song Contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland; the country was awarded the contest in October 1955 at the EBU’s General Assembly following an offer by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) to stage the event. In addition Switzerland made a logical choice from a technical perspective for the hosting of what was an experiment in live, simultaneous, cross-border transmissions, as its geographically central location in Europe facilitated terrestrial broadcasts across the continent, as well as being the host country for the EBU’s headquarters.

Taking its inspiration from the Italian Sanremo Music Festival and Venice International Song Festival, Lugano in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino was chosen as the first host city by SRG SSR, with Italian-language member broadcaster Radiotelevisione svizzera (RSI) in charge of the production. The selected venue for the contest was the Teatro Kursaal, a casino and former theatre situated on Lake Lugano. The theatre, used for theatrical and musical performances, ballroom dance and other shows, closed shortly after featuring its last performance in April 1997 before being demolished in 2001 to make room for the extension of the casino.

Marcel Bezençon (pictured in 1980) was instrumental in the creation of the contest as President of the EBU’s Programme Committee.

3.Format. A planning sub-group, headed by Eduard Hass of SRG SSR, was subsequently formed following the sign-off on the organisation of the event to build out the rules of the competition. The group took inspiration from the Sanremo Music Festival and the Venice International Song Festival, a similar EBU-organised song contest held in 1955 and broadcast on radio. Using the Sanremo festival as a basis in planning the new contest, the group made several amendments and additions to these rules to suit its international nature. Ideas suggested but ultimately rejected during this planning phase included featuring each song a second time with a piano accompaniment instead of orchestral backing, as well as technical initiatives such as a separate producer from each participating country involved in the contest’s organisation. Prize money for the winners was also ruled out at this stage. The rules of the contest were finalised and distributed to EBU members in early 1956. The rules set out in detail the criteria for the participating songs and performers; production details and requirements; timelines for the submission of materials by the participating broadcasters; the method by which the winning song would be determined; details related to the financing of the event; and the responsibilities which lay with the host broadcaster and the participating broadcasters.

Per the rules of the contest, each participating country, represented by one EBU member organisation, submitted into the contest a maximum of two songs of between three and three-and-a-half minutes in duration, which must have been solely original compositions. Each participating organisation had sole discretion on how to select their entries for the contest, but were strongly encouraged by the EBU to hold their own national contests to determine their representatives. Only solo artists were permitted to compete. Following the performance of all songs, the winner was determined by juries from each country composed of two individuals, with each individual member rating secretly each song between one and ten points, including those representing their own country, with higher scores given to more appreciated songs. The jury followed the contest in a separate room in the same venue in Lugano through a small television screen, replicating the conditions as close as possible to how viewers at home would watch the contest. The winning song was thus that which gained the highest score from the votes of all jury members. The jury members from Luxembourg were unable to attend the contest in Lugano, and subsequently the EBU allowed two Swiss nationals to vote in their place. This would remain the only contest in which many of these rules would be utilised, and several changes were made ahead of the 1957 contest. These included restricting each country to only one song, expanding the number of performers allowed to participate for each country, introducing a more visible voting system, and restricting each country from voting for their own entry.

Each song was accompanied by the Radiosa Orchestra, supplemented by the strings of the Italian Swiss Radio Symphony Orchestra, with 24 members total, which was presided over by the contest’s musical director, Fernando Paggi. Each participating country was allowed to supplement the orchestra with their own musical director for the performances of their country. Participating broadcasters were required to submit to the EBU by 10 May 1956 scores for the participating songs for use by the orchestra, audio recordings for each participating song, and copies of the song lyrics for each song in the original language, as well as translations into French or English to aid the jury members and commentators. The confirmed selection of each country’s musical director (if separate to that of the host) was required to be communicated between 21 and 24 May.

Rehearsals in the contest venue with the competing artists and the orchestra began on 21 May 1956, and the contest was held on 24 May 1956, beginning at 21:00 CET (20:00 UTC) with an approximate duration of 1 hour 40 minutes. The event was hosted by in Italian by Lohengrin Filipello. This remains the only time in which the contest was hosted by a solo male presenter, and one of only two contests not to feature a female presenter, alongside the 2017 contest held 61 years later. Additionally this would remain the only contest to feature a male presenter for 22 years, when the 1978 contest featured a male and female presenting duo. During the interval between the final competing act and the announcement of the winner, performances by Les Joyeux Rossignols and Les Trois Ménestrels featured to entertain the audience. Upon the announcement of the results only the winning song was named, with the full breakdown of the jury votes not revealed. The winning artist then returned to the stage for a reprise performance of the winning song to end the broadcast.

4.Participating countries. Seven countries participated in this first contest Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and West Germany (identified simply as “Germany” in the contest). Austria and Denmark are believed to have also been interested in participating, however broadcasters from those countries reportedly missed the cut-off point for entry; these two countries, as well as the United Kingdom, would however broadcast the contest along with the participating countries, with the United Kingdom’s BBC having chosen to not send an entry for this event in favour of organising their own contest, the Festival of British Popular Songs. The order in which the countries and songs were performed was determined artistically by the Swiss broadcasters, with input and support by the musical directors from each country.

4.1.Conductors. As specified in the rules of the contest, each country was allowed to nominate their own musical director to lead the orchestra during the performance of their country’s entries, with the host musical director also conducting for those countries which did not nominate their own conductor. The conductors listed below led the orchestra during both performances for the indicated countries.

  • 🇳🇱 The Netherlands – Fernando Paggi [a]
  • 🇨🇭 Switzerland – Fernando Paggi
  • 🇧🇪 Belgium – Léo Souris
  • 🇩🇪 Germany – Fernando Paggi
  • 🇫🇷 France – Franck Pourcel
  • 🇱🇺 Luxembourg – Jacques Lasry
  • 🇮🇹 Italy – Gian Stellari

Switzerland’s Lys Assia (pictured in 1958) was the first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, and would represent her country in the contest again in 1957 and 1958.

4.2.Participants and results. Two of the performers, namely Switzerland’s Lys Assia and Luxembourg’s Michèle Arnaud, performed both entries for their respective countries. Assia, as well as the Netherlands’ Corry Brokken and Belgium’s Fud Leclerc, would return to compete in the contest in future additions, with Assia and Brokken both returning in 1957 and 1958 and Leclerc in 1958, 1960 and 1962.

Following the announcement of the winning song, during the winning reprise of “Refrain“, Assia became so emotional that she suffered a lapse in memory of the song’s lyrics and requested a restart.

The full results of the contest were not revealed, and have not been retained by the EBU. Attempts to reconstruct the voting through interviews with jury members have also failed to reveal a reliable result. An article in Italian newspaper La Stampa published on 25 May 1956, the day after the contest, reported that Switzerland’s winning entry received 102 points in total, but this has failed to be corroborated by the contest organisers.

4.3.All the national selections for Eurovision Song Contest 1956: 

• National Selections in 1956:

COUNTRY EVENT WINNERS
🇮🇹 Italy Sanremo 1956 Franca Raimondi – “Aprite le finestre

Tonina Torielli – “Amami se vuoi

🇳🇱 The Netherlands Nationaal Songfestival 1956 Jetty Paerl – “De vogels van Holland

Corry Brokken – “Voorgoed voorbij

🇨🇭 Switzerland (Swiss Selection 1956) Lys Assia – “Refrain

Lys Assia – “Das alte Karussell

🇧🇪 Belgium Fud Leclerc – “Messieurs les noyés de la Seine

Mony Marc – “Le plus beau jour de ma vie

🇫🇷 France Mathé Altéry – “Le temps perdu

Dany Dauberson – “Il est là

🇩🇪 Germany Walter Andreas Schwarz – “Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück

Freddy Quinn – “So geht das jede Nacht

🇱🇺 Luxembourg Michèle Arnaud – “Ne crois pas

Michèle Arnaud – “Les amants de minuit

4.4.Connections:

Connections Participants of the Eurovision Song Contest 1956
# Artist Composers Lyricists Conductor
01 Jetty Paerl Cor Lemaire Annie M. G. Schmidt Fernando Paggi:

  • Switzerland 1964: I miei pensieri (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: De vogels van Holland (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: So geht das jede Nacht (conductor)
02 Lys Assia:

  • Switzerland 1958: Giorgio (as Lys Assia, solo)
  • Switzerland 1957: L’enfant que j’étais (as Lys Assia, solo)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (as Lys Assia, solo)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (as Lys Assia, solo)
Georg Benz Stahl Georg Benz Stahl Fernando Paggi:

  • Switzerland 1964: I miei pensieri (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: De vogels van Holland (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: So geht das jede Nacht (conductor)
03 Fud Leclerc:

  • Belgium 1962: Ton nom (as Fud Leclerc, solo)
  • Belgium 1960: Mon amour pour toi (as Fud Leclerc, solo)
  • Belgium 1958: Ma petite chatte (as Fud Leclerc, solo)
  • Belgium 1956: Messieurs les noyés de la seine (as Fud Leclerc, solo)
.Jean Miret

.Jacques Say:

  • Belgium 1982: Si tu aimes ma musique (conductor)
  • Belgium 1970: Viens l’oublier (conductor)
  • Belgium 1956: Messieurs les noyés de la seine (composer)
Robert Montal:

  • Belgium 1960: Mon amour pour toi (lyricist)
  • Belgium 1956: Messieurs les noyés de la seine (lyricist)
Léo Souris:

  • Belgium 1956: Le plus beau jour de ma vie (conductor)
  • Belgium 1956: Messieurs les noyés de la seine (conductor)
04 Walter Andreas Schwarz Walter Andreas Schwarz Walter Andreas Schwarz Fernando Paggi:

  • Switzerland 1964: I miei pensieri (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: De vogels van Holland (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: So geht das jede Nacht (conductor)
05 Mathé Altéry André Lodge Rachèle Thoreau Franck Pourcel:

  • France 1972: Comé comédie (conductor)
  • France 1971: Un jardin sur la terre (conductor)
  • France 1970: Marie-Blanche (conductor)
  • France 1969: Un jour, un enfant (conductor)
  • France 1967: Il doit faire beau là-bas (conductor)
  • France 1966: Chez nous (conductor)
  • France 1965: N’avoue jamais (conductor)
  • France 1964: Le chant de Mallory (conductor)
  • France 1963: Elle était si jolie (conductor)
  • France 1962: Un premier amour (conductor)
  • Austria 1961: Sehnsucht (conductor)
  • Germany 1961: Einmal sehen wir uns wieder (conductor)
  • France 1961: Printemps, avril carillonne (conductor)
  • France 1960: Tom Pillibi (conductor)
  • France 1959: Oui oui oui oui (conductor)
  • Monaco 1959: Mon ami Pierrot (conductor)
  • Germany 1959: Heute Abend wollen wir tanzen geh’n (conductor)
  • Sweden 1959: Augustin (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1959: Irgendwoher (conductor)
  • Austria 1959: Der K. und K. Kalypso aus Wien (conductor)
  • France 1958: Dors, mon amour (conductor)
  • France 1956: Il est là (conductor)
  • France 1956: Le temps perdu (conductor)
06 Michèle Arnaud: 

  • Luxembourg 1956: Les amants de minuit (as Michèle Arnaud, solo)
  • Luxembourg 1956: Ne crois pas (as Michèle Arnaud, solo)
Christian Guitreau Christian Guitreau Jacques Lassry:

  • Luxembourg 1956: Les amants de minuit (lyricist, conductor)
  • Luxembourg 1956: Ne crois pas (conductor)
07 Franca Raimondi Virgilio Panzuti Pinchi (Pino Perotti):

  • United Kingdom 1971: Pupazzo (as Pinchi, lyricist Italian version)
  • Italy 1956: Aprite le finestre (as Pinchi, lyricist)
Gian Stellari:

  • Italy 1956: Amami se vuoi (conductor)
  • Italy 1956: Aprite le finestre (conductor)
08 Corry Brokken:

  • The Netherlands 1958: Heel de wereld (solo)
  • The Netherlands 1957: Net als toen (solo)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (solo)
Jelle de Vries Jelle de Vries Fernando Paggi:

  • Switzerland 1964: I miei pensieri (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: De vogels van Holland (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: So geht das jede Nacht (conductor)
09 Lys Assia:

  • Switzerland 1958: Giorgio (as Lys Assia, solo)
  • Switzerland 1957: L’enfant que j’étais (as Lys Assia, solo)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (as Lys Assia, solo)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (as Lys Assia, solo)
Géo Voumard:

  • Switzerland 1963: T’en vas pas (composer)
  • Switzerland 1962: Le retour (composer)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (composer)
  • Switzerland 1957: L’enfant que j’étais (composer)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (composer)
Émile Gardaz:

  • Switzerland 1963: T’en vas pas (lyricist)
  • Switzerland 1962: Le retour (lyricist)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (lyricist)
  • Switzerland 1957: L’enfant que j’étais (lyricist)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (lyricist)
Fernando Paggi:

  • Switzerland 1964: I miei pensieri (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: De vogels van Holland (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: So geht das jede Nacht (conductor)
10 Mony Marc Claude Alix David Bee Léo Souris:

  • Belgium 1956: Le plus beau jour de ma vie (conductor)
  • Belgium 1956: Messieurs les noyés de la seine (conductor
11 Freddy Quinn Lothar Olias Peter Mösser Fernando Paggi:

  • Switzerland 1964: I miei pensieri (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1961: Nous aurons demain (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: De vogels van Holland (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Das alte Karussell (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück (conductor)
  • The Netherlands 1956: Voorgoed voorbij (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1956: Refrain (conductor)
  • Germany 1956: So geht das jede Nacht (conductor)
12 Dany Dauberson Simone Vallauris Simone Vallauris Franck Pourcel:

  • France 1972: Comé comédie (conductor)
  • France 1971: Un jardin sur la terre (conductor)
  • France 1970: Marie-Blanche (conductor)
  • France 1969: Un jour, un enfant (conductor)
  • France 1967: Il doit faire beau là-bas (conductor)
  • France 1966: Chez nous (conductor)
  • France 1965: N’avoue jamais (conductor)
  • France 1964: Le chant de Mallory (conductor)
  • France 1963: Elle était si jolie (conductor)
  • France 1962: Un premier amour (conductor)
  • Austria 1961: Sehnsucht (conductor)
  • Germany 1961: Einmal sehen wir uns wieder (conductor)
  • France 1961: Printemps, avril carillonne (conductor)
  • France 1960: Tom Pillibi (conductor)
  • France 1959: Oui oui oui oui (conductor)
  • Monaco 1959: Mon ami Pierrot (conductor)
  • Germany 1959: Heute Abend wollen wir tanzen geh’n (conductor)
  • Sweden 1959: Augustin (conductor)
  • Switzerland 1959: Irgendwoher (conductor)
  • Austria 1959: Der K. und K. Kalypso aus Wien (conductor)
  • France 1958: Dors, mon amour (conductor)
  • France 1956: Le temps perdu (conductor)
  • France 1956: Il est là (conductor)
13 Michèle Arnaud:

  • Luxembourg 1956: Ne crois pas (as Michèle Arnaud, solo)
  • Luxembourg 1956: Les amants de minuit (as Michèle Arnaud, solo)
Christian Guitreau Christian Guitreau Jacques Lassry:

  • Luxembourg 1956: Les amants de minuit (lyricist, conductor)
  • Luxembourg 1956: Ne crois pas (conductor)
14 Tonina Torrielli Vittorio Mascheroni Mario Panzeri:

  • Italy 1974: Sì (composer, lyricist)
  • Italy 1964: Non ho l’età (lyricist)
  • Italy 1956: Amami se vuoi (lyricist)
Gian Stellari:

  • Italy 1956: Aprite le finestre (conductor)
  • Italy 1956: Amami se vuoi (conductor)

5. Voting. The scores of the voting have never been made public, leaving room for lots of speculation. Attempts to reconstruct the voting by interviewing jury members over the following five decades did not lead to any reliable outcome.

6.Broadcasts. Each participating broadcaster was required to relay the contest via its networks. Non-participating EBU member broadcasters were also able to relay the contest as “passive participants”. In addition to the television channels of the seven participating broadcasters and three non-participating passive broadcasters, the contest was also broadcast live on seven radio networks and recorded for later transmission by another 13. The United Kingdom’s BBC took only partial live transmission of the event, joining 45 minutes into the contest and only showing the second set of entries from each country. Broadcasters were able to send commentators to provide coverage of the contest in their own native language and to relay information about the artists and songs to their television viewers. Known details on the broadcasts in each country, including the specific broadcasting stations and commentators are shown in the tables below.

No video footage of the entire contest is known to exist, with the only known footage being clips of the reprise performance of the winning song via newsreel and other recordings. Audio of most of the contest have however survived, missing only part of the interval act, and a large cache of photographs has also been uncovered in recent years. As such, this is one of only two editions of the contest, along with the 1964 contest, to not have video recordings of the full event retained.

Broadcasters and commentators in participating countries
Country Broadcaster(s) Commentator(s)
🇧🇪 Belgium INR Unknown
NIR Unknown
🇫🇷 France RTF Unknown
Paris-Inter Unknown
🇩🇪 Germany ARD Unknown
🇮🇹 Italy Programma Nazionale Franco Marazzi
Secondo Programma
🇱🇺 Luxembourg Télé-Luxembourg Unknown
🇳🇱 Netherlands NTS Piet te Nuyl Jr.
🇨🇭 Switzerland SRG Unknown
TSR Unknown
Radio Beromünster Unknown
Radio Sottens Unknown
Radio Monte Ceneri Unknown
Broadcasters and commentators in non-participating countries
Country Broadcaster(s) Commentator(s)
ÖRF Unknown
Statsradiofonien TV Jens Frederik Lawaetz
BBC Television Service Wilfrid Thomas

7.Notes.

  • [a] Dolf van der Linden, who was originally selected to lead the orchestra for the Dutch entries, was unable to attend the contest, and was replaced by the host musical director Paggi.
  • [1] “Singing out loud and proud”. In the mid-1950s, the members of the European Broadcasting Union set up an ad hoc committee to investigate ways of rallying the countries of Europe round a light entertainment programme. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) was formed on 12 February 1950 by 23 broadcasting organisations from Europe and the Mediterranean at a conference in Devon, United Kingdom. It was on 6 June 1954, that Montreux became the venue for the first transmission by the EBU’s Eurovision Network of the Narcissus Festival and its flower-bedecked procession floats. At Monaco, in late January 1955, this committee, chaired by Marcel Bezençon, director general of Swiss Television, came up with the idea of creating a song contest, inspired by the very popular San Remo Festival. The idea was approved by the EBU General Assembly in Rome on 19 October 1955, and it was decided that the first “Eurovision Grand Prix” – so baptised, incidentally, by a British journalist – would take place in spring 1956 at Lugano, Switzerland.

8.Trivial / Fun facts. 

  • In the first ever Eurovision Song Contest (1956), Luxembourg asked Switzerland to vote on its behalf. And the winner was: Switzerland!. 
  • The scores of the voting from the 1956-contest have never been made public, leaving room for lots of speculation. Attempts to reconstruct the voting by interviewing jury members over the following five decades did not lead to any reliable outcome. 
  • In 1956, every participating country could enter with two songs. The Netherlands was the first country to sing a song in Eurovision with “De vogels van Holland”.
  • Lys Assia has taken part 3 times in a row and has aimed for a fourth attempt just in the past years (in her 80s!).
  • Lys Assia is the only Swiss national to have won. Switzerland’s other winner is Céline Dion, who is originally Canadian.
  • Austria and Denmark missed the deadline for the first Eurovision Song Contest and only appeared one year later.
  • Only solo artists were allowed to enter the contest. Groups were not – a rule which would be abolished in the 1970s.

Eurovision Song Contest 1956 → Eurovision Song Contest 1957

Countries (in order of appearance)

Final The Netherlands ⦁ Switzerland (winner) ⦁ Belgium ⦁ Germany ⦁ France ⦁ Luxembourg ⦁ Italy ⦁ The Netherlands ⦁ Switzerland (winner) ⦁ Belgium ⦁ Germany ⦁ France ⦁ Luxembourg ⦁ Italy

Artists (in order of appearance)

Final Jetty Paerl ⦁ Lys Assia (winner) ⦁ Fud Leclerc ⦁ Walter Andreas Schwarz ⦁ Mathé Altéry ⦁ Michèle Arnaud ⦁ Franca Raimondi ⦁ Corry Brokken ⦁ Lys Assia (winner) ⦁ Mony Marc ⦁ Freddy Quinn ⦁ Dany Dauberson ⦁  Michèle Arnaud ⦁ Tonina Torrielli

Songs (in order of appearance)

Final “De vogels van Holland” ⦁ “Das alte Karussell” ⦁ “Messieurs les noyés de la Seine” ⦁ “Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück” ⦁ “Le temps perdu” ⦁ “Ne crois pas” ⦁ “Aprite le finestre” ⦁ “Voorgoed voorbij” • “Refrain” (winner) ⦁ “Le plus beau jour de ma vie” ⦁ “So geht das jede Nacht” ⦁ “Il est là” ⦁ “Les amants de minuit” ⦁ “Amami se vuoi” 
Non-participating entries: United Kingdom: Denis Lotis & The Keynotes – “Ev’rybody falls in love with someone” ⦁ United Kingdom: Shirley Abicair – “Little Ship”