Eurovision Song Contest
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The show

Final
Thursday, 24 May, 1956, 19:00
Location
Teatro Kursaal, Lugano, Switzerland
Host broadcaster
SSR SRG
Presented by
Lohengrin Filipello
EBU Supervisor
Rolf Liebermann
TV Director
Franco Marazzi
Interval Act
Les Joyeux Rossignols

The show

Final
Thursday, 24 May, 1956, 19:00
Location
Teatro Kursaal, Lugano, Switzerland
Host broadcaster
SSR SRG
Presented by
Lohengrin Filipello
EBU Supervisor
Rolf Liebermann
TV Director
Franco Marazzi
Interval Act
Les Joyeux Rossignols

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

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 (recent photo).  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.

Participants & Results

R/O
Country
Artist
Song
Points
Ranking
01The NetherlandsJetty PaerlDe Vogels Van Holland2
02SwitzerlandLys AssiaDas Alte Karussell2
03BelgiumFud LeclercMessieurs Les Noyés De La Seine2
04GermanyWalter Andreas SchwarzIm Wartesaal Zum Großen Glück2
05FranceMathé AltéryLe Temps Perdu2
06LuxembourgMichèle ArnaudNe Crois Pas2
07ItalyFranca RaimondiAprite Le Finestre2
08The NetherlandsCorry BrokkenVoorgoed Voorbij2
09SwitzerlandLys AssiaRefrain1
10BelgiumMony MarcLe Plus Beau Jour De Ma Vie2
11GermanyFreddy QuinnSo Geht Das Jede Nacht2
12FranceDany DaubersonIl Est Là2
13LuxembourgMichèle ArnaudLes Amants De Minuit2
14ItalyTonina TorielliAmami Se Vuoi2
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