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History of the Eurovision Song Contest

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Title: History of the Eurovision Song Contest  
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Subject: Eurovision Song Contest, Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Großer Sendesaal des hessischen Rundfunks, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, Stockholm International Fairs
Collection: Eurovision Song Contest
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History of the Eurovision Song Contest

The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began with the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The contest was based on the Italian Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.

The first contest took place on 24 May 1956,[1] where seven nations participated. As the Contest progressed, the rules grew increasingly complex and participation levels rose to pass forty nations at the end of the 20th century. As more countries came on board over subsequent decades and technology advanced, the EBU attempted to keep up with national and international trends.

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 continued into the 2005 contest, in which both Bulgaria and Moldova made their debut.

Liechtenstein, Vatican City and Kosovo are the only European countries not to have participated; the most recent major European country to take part was the Czech Republic, which made its debut in the 2007 contest. San Marino took part in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade, Serbia, together with Azerbaijan.

Australia made their debut in the 2015 contest and became the first country from the Oceania region (and the second country outside of Eurasia overall after Morocco in 1980) to participate in the contest. Although their participation was announced as a one-off event, there has been speculation that a permanent invitation could be offered.


  • Competition history 1
  • The songs 2
  • Competitors 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Competition history

London. Royal Albert Hall, venue of 1968 contest.
Jerusalem. International Convention Centre, venue of 1979 and 1999 contests.
Malmö. Malmö Entertainment Centre, venue of 1992 contest.
Oslo. Oslo Spektrum, venue of 1996 contest.
Stockholm. Globen Arena, venue of 2000 and 2016 contest.
Istanbul. Abdi İpekçi Arena, venue of 2004 contest.
Belgrade. Belgrade Arena, venue of 2008 contest.
Malmö. Malmö Arena, venue of 2013 contest.
Edition Finals date Year Broadcaster Venue City Countries Winner
1st 24 May 1956 SSR Teatro Kursaal Lugano 7[2]   Switzerland
2nd 3 March 1957 ARD Großer Sendesaal Frankfurt 10  Netherlands
3rd 12 March 1958 NTS AVRO Studio Hilversum  France
4th 11 March 1959 RTF Palais des Festivals Cannes 11  Netherlands
5th 25 March 1960 BBC Royal Festival Hall London 13  France
6th 18 March 1961 RTF Palais des Festivals Cannes 16  Luxembourg
7th 1962 CLT Villa Louvigny Luxembourg  France
8th 23 March 1963 BBC BBC Television Centre London  Denmark
9th 21 March 1964 DR Tivoli Concert Hall Copenhagen  Italy
10th 20 March 1965 RAI RAI Television Centre Naples 18  Luxembourg
11th 5 March 1966 CLT Villa Louvigny Luxembourg  Austria
12th 8 April 1967 ORF Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna 17  United Kingdom
13th 6 April 1968 BBC Royal Albert Hall London  Spain
14th 29 March 1969 TVE Teatro Real Madrid 16  France
 United Kingdom
15th 21 March 1970 NOS RAI Congrescentrum Amsterdam 12  Ireland
16th 3 April 1971 RTÉ Gaiety Theatre Dublin 18  Monaco
17th 25 March 1972 BBC Usher Hall Edinburgh  Luxembourg
18th 7 April 1973 CLT Nouveau Théâtre Luxembourg Luxembourg 17
19th 6 April 1974 BBC Brighton Dome Brighton  Sweden
20th 22 March 1975 SR Stockholm International Fairs Stockholm 19  Netherlands
21st 3 April 1976 NOS Congresgebouw The Hague 18  United Kingdom
22nd 7 May 1977 BBC Wembley Conference Centre London  France
23rd 22 April 1978 TF1 Palais des Congrès Paris 20  Israel
24th 31 March 1979 IBA International Convention Centre Jerusalem 19
25th 19 April 1980 NOS Congresgebouw The Hague  Ireland
26th 4 April 1981 RTÉ Royal Dublin Society Dublin 20  United Kingdom
27th 24 April 1982 BBC Harrogate International Centre Harrogate 18  Germany
28th 23 April 1983 ARD Rudi Sedlmayer Halle Munich 20  Luxembourg
29th 5 May 1984 CLT Théâtre Municipal Luxembourg 19  Sweden
30th 4 May 1985 SVT Scandinavium Gothenburg  Norway
31st 3 May 1986 NRK Grieg Hall Bergen 20  Belgium
32nd 9 May 1987 RTBF Centenary Palace Brussels 22  Ireland
33rd 30 April 1988 RTÉ Royal Dublin Society Dublin 21   Switzerland
34th 6 May 1989 SSR Palais de Beaulieu Lausanne 22  Yugoslavia
35th 5 May 1990 JRT Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Zagreb  Italy
36th 4 May 1991 RAI Studio 15 di Cinecittà Rome  Sweden
37th 9 May 1992 SVT Malmö Entertainment Centre Malmö 23  Ireland
38th 15 May 1993 RTÉ Green Glens Arena Millstreet 25
39th 30 April 1994 Point Depot Dublin
40th 13 May 1995 23  Norway
41st 18 May 1996 NRK Oslo Spektrum Oslo  Ireland
42nd 3 May 1997 RTÉ Point Depot Dublin 25  United Kingdom
43rd 9 May 1998 BBC National Indoor Arena Birmingham  Israel
44th 29 May 1999 IBA International Convention Centre Jerusalem 23  Sweden
45th 13 May 2000 SVT Globen Arena Stockholm 24  Denmark
46th 12 May 2001 DR Parken Stadium Copenhagen 23  Estonia
47th 25 May 2002 ETV Saku Suurhall Tallinn 24  Latvia
48th 24 May 2003 LTV Skonto Hall Riga 26  Turkey
49th 15 May 2004 TRT Abdi İpekçi Arena Istanbul 36  Ukraine
50th 21 May 2005 NTU Kiev Sports Palace Kiev 39  Greece
51st 20 May 2006 ERT Olympic Indoor Hall Athens 37  Finland
52nd 12 May 2007 YLE Hartwall Arena Helsinki 42  Serbia
53rd 24 May 2008 RTS Belgrade Arena Belgrade 43  Russia
54th 16 May 2009 C1R Olimpiyskiy Arena Moscow 42  Norway
55th 29 May 2010 NRK Telenor Arena Oslo 39  Germany
56th 14 May 2011 NDR Düsseldorf Arena Düsseldorf 43  Azerbaijan
57th 26 May 2012 İTV Baku Crystal Hall Baku 42  Sweden
58th 18 May 2013 SVT Malmö Arena Malmö 39  Denmark
59th 10 May 2014 DR B&W Hallerne Copenhagen 37  Austria
60th 23 May 2015 ORF Wiener Stadthalle Vienna 40  Sweden
61st 14 May 2016 SVT Globen Arena Stockholm 40 (to date) TBA

The songs

The earliest period in the Eurovision history is marked by the style of songs which participated and the manner in which the show itself was presented. Famous musical and film stars would participate without prejudice, with Italian winners of the Sanremo Festival and such British names as Patricia Bredin and Bryan Johnson. With a live orchestra the norm in the early years, and simple sing-a-long songs on every radio station, the Contest grew into a favourite amongst almost all age groups across the continent. Iconic songs such as "Volare" and Serge Gainsbourg's "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" hit the sales charts in many countries after their Eurovision performance.

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, including Maltese when the island nation made its debut. 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". The lyrics were allowed to contain occasional phrases in other languages, which was utilized for example by the Yugoslavian song in 1969. In 1973, the rules on language use was 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, with the intervening years waning from highlights to dead-weight years. The "swinging sixties" and punk scenes were all but missed by the contemporary Eurovision periods, whilst the 1980s saw an increase in balladry with an almost blanket disregard for electronica or guitar-based pop. Other than heavily infused pop versions, rap has been next to completely ignored.

One result of the attempt to modernise the songs in the Contest was the abolition of the obligatory use of the live orchestra, to which all songs had to perform. This decision was made in 1997 and removed the automatic requirement for songs to be re-composed for playback with a live orchestra. As of 1999, the host country hasn't been obliged to provide a live orchestra, and there hasn't been one since. No attempt has been made to return the Contest to the days of live bands and violins. Live music is not allowed. This rule most likely exists because there isn't enough time to wire the instruments during the short break between the songs. On the other hand, a backing tape may have no voices on it, singing still must be done live. Before 1997 backing tracks were allowed, but only if all instruments on tape were featured on stage. This explains the odd situation in 1996, when Gina G, entrant for the United Kingdom, had two computer screens on stage.

Other than the earliest contests, each and every entry has been fixed at a maximum three minutes in length.


Previous performers at the Eurovision Song Contest include:

See also


  1. ^ "Eurovision – History". Eurovision. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  2. ^ 7 countries performed 2 songs each

External links

  • History by Year
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story
  • Sing Your Heart Out, Europe: The Eurovision Song Contest
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