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The Decade Of


Decade Introduction

1956 - 1959

Although Marcel Bezençon is credited with creating the Eurovision Song Contest, much of the format that we recognise today came from the British actor Michael Brennan, who in March, 1954 came up with the idea of a song contest which featured regional juries and a scoreboard. This idea eventually became the Festival Of British Popular Songs, which was first screened on the 7th May, 1956.

Seven countries took part in the first edition, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and Italy, with each country presenting two songs.


Host City


Inspired by the Sanremo Festival, the vision of a pan-European music competition was born at a EBU meeting in Monaco in 1955.

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 was hosting the programme, which lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. The seven participating countries were represented with two songs each. 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.


Stories worth telling

Lys Assia

Known for having sold millions of records, she has performed to kings and queens all over the world and is the matriarch of the Eurovision Song Contest royal family.

Ladies and gentlemen, the very first winner of the contest, Lys Assia!

Having enchanted audiences since the 1940s, she’s famous for her trademark black dress and a tiny dog called Cindy as well as her incredible charm. You might also remember her from the past few contests where she’s been called up as a guest of honour and has waved to some 180 million people on live TV.



Host City


The 1957 Eurovision Song Contest was hosted by the Hessischer Rundfunk on behalf of Deutsches Fernsehen ARD.

This year, Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom entered the contest for the first time, joining the other seven participating countries from the previous year. Despite the fact that an increasing number of Europeans had had access to television, the contest was still mainly a radio programme.

As a change to the contest the year before, duos were allowed into the competition with the first being the Danish entry by Birthe Wilke and Gustav Winckler. The couple gave viewers the longest on-stage kiss in the history of the contest to date, but it was not enough to win and they ended third.



1957 results

The Netherlands

Stories worth telling

Corry Brokken

For the first time, the Netherlands won the contest with the song Net Als Toen, performed by Corry Brokken who also represented her country in Lugano the year before.



Host City


The Netherlands had the honour of hosting the third Eurovision Song Contest.

The 1958 contest took place at the television studios in Hilversum, the 'media capital' of the Netherlands. For the occasion, the venue was decorated with thousands of tulips.



1958 results


Stories worth telling

About the Winner

Sweden entered the contest for the first time with one of their biggest stars, Alice Babs.

But it was not enough to stop France from getting the trophy with the song Dors, Mon Amour, performed by André Claveau.



Host City


73 minutes live from Cannes. The Eurovision Song Contest of 1959 welcomed the small principality of Monaco.

Moreover, the United Kingdom re-entered the contest after one year of absence, and Luxembourg decided not to participate.



1959 results

The Netherlands

Stories worth telling

Teddy Scholten

The Netherlands won for already the second time in the short history of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Een Beetje performed by Teddy Scholten.

The lyrics of the song were written by Willy van Hemert, who also wrote the winning song of 1957. The winner was once again outscored by Domenico Modugno though who got yet another world-wide hit with his Italian entry Piove - which is better known under the title Ciao Ciao Bambina.


Next Decade




Project & Content Manager

Marieke Duijts

Editorial contributions

Victor Escudero
Olena Omelyanchuk
Gordon Roxburgh
Jarmo Siim



Technical supervision

Wouter van Vliet

Digital Production

Elespacio - Lucas Onofre

Art Direction & Design

Elespacio - Brijan Powell
Elespacio - Samuel Hoh
Elespacio - Pavel Proshin


Elespacio - Jacek Zakowicz
Elespacio - Cristina Franco
Elespacio - Jonathan Icicson

Photo & video credits

Getty Images
Beeld & Geluid (Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision)
BBC Photo Library
ORF/Thomas Ramstorfer
Stijn Smulders
Jan Demulder
Wim Dehandschutter
Femke de Laat
Andres Putting
Thomas Hanses
Dennis Stachel
Sander Hesterman
Elke Roels
Marieke Duijts
Indrek Galetin
Alain Douit
Kenneth Thorén (SVT)
James Morley
Anthony Kelly
Sam Shaw
Peter Mackey
Philippe Schlesser
Polfoto - Jacob Maarbjerg
Jacinta lluch Valero
Gage Skidmore
Gustavo Devito
Robert Scoble
R Barraez D´Lucca
Asim Bijarani
Chris - RMS Olympic Broadside View Post-Titanic
Kamil Porembiński - RBMK-1000, Chernobyl
Dan Queiroz
François Péladeau / Vancityhotshots
NASA image acquired April 16, 2010
Julian Burgess
Alex Hill
Bryan Dorrough
South African Tourism
Maxwell Hamilton
Paisley Scotland
Alf Melin
Ross Fowler
Yukiko Matsuoka
Irish Typepad
hobvias sudoneighm

Special thanks to

Samuel Andersson (SVT)
Stephanie Caflisch (EBU)
Jeroen Depraetere
Maartje Jansma (Beeld & Geluid)
Gijs Kimenai (Beeld & Geluid)
Maiken Maimets (OGAE)
Helen Ridell (BBC)
Sarah Sadek (EBU)
Jon Ola Sand (EBU)
Dave Goodman (EBU)
David A Allan

A special thanks to all Heads of Delegations, members of the Reference Group, EBU Member Broadcaster representatives and fans who have contributed to this project.

Project Supervisor

Sietse Bakker

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With thanks

Eurovision Song Contest, Scrn, Elespacio