May 24th 1956: First Eurovision

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The original Eurovision logo

 

On this day in 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest (then known as the Eurovision Grand Prix) was held in Lugano, Switzerland. The idea for the event came about in a 1955 meeting of the European Broadcasting Union in Monaco, after they were inspired by the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy. The first ever Eurovision broadcast lasted for one almost two-hour show on May 24th, primarily broadcast over radio. The event saw seven European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland) submit two songs each. The winner was picked by a jury panel made up of representatives from the participating countries who voted for their favourite song in secret.

 

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1956 winner Lys Assia of Switzerland

 

In 1956, the prize went to Switzerland’s own Lys Assia with the song ‘Refrain’. The tradition of the Eurovision song contest continues annually to this day, though the format is very different to how it was in 1956 – most notably the increased number of participant countries (37 took part this year) and the fact that each country only enter one song each. The 2014 Eurovision contest was won by Austria’s Conchita Wurst for the song ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’.

 

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2014 winner Conchita Wurst of Austria