Eurovision Song Contest 1957 (Frankfurt)

<<< 1956   |   1958 >>>

2. Eurovision Song Contest

Frankfurt am Main, Germany

March 3, 1957

The second Eurovision Song Contest was held in the “Großer Sendesaal des Hessischen Rundfunks” in Frankfurt am Main in West Germany. Rumor has it, that Germany got to host the contest because the German entry “Im Wartesaal zum großen Glück” by Walter Andreas Schwarz had come second behind Switzerland in 1956. Other sources claim that the participating countries were originally supposed to take turns organizing the contest. The increasing number of participants made this impractical and from 1958 on, the winner of the previous year got the right to host the event.

Anaïd Iplicjian

The hostess of the evening was Anaïd Iplicjian, of Armenian descent, spoke German throughout the show with only a few exceptions during the voting. The rule that the viewers had to be greeted in the official languages of the EBU, English and French had not been established yet. In her greeting Iplicjian already set the musical theme of the evening: The best “chansons” and “schlager” would be vying for the Eurovision crown.

The second edition introduced some changes that are still valid today: As Austria, Denmark and the UK joined the contest and thus there were now enough songs to fill one evening, each country could only enter one song into the competition. Furthermore the jurors of the participating countries could not vote for their own country. The rule that only soloists were allowed to perform was also abolished. The first duo in the contest’s history came from Denmark.

The second edition of what is today Europe’s most popular television show, was still mostly a radio program. However, the number of television sets in European households had increased since the previous edition. Luckily, contrary to the first contest, video material has survived.

The first entry of the evening was from Belgium. Bobbejaan Schoepen sang a song about a tune that travels up and down a street and is sung by everyone that hears it. “Straatdeuntje” (“Street Tune”) was thus the title of the song. Schoepen performed several whistling solos in front of a picture of cobblestones. Rumor has it, that he only learned what song he would sing when he arrived in Frankfurt and only rehearsed it once before his performance. The jurors were not too impressed: 8th place with 5 points.

As they would do so often in the coming decades, Luxembourg sent a French singer to compete in the contest. Danièle Dupré performed a melancholic chanson about the pain she felt after her lover had broken up with her. Accordingly, the title of her song was “Amours morts (tant de peine)” (Dead love, so much pain). Despite the respectable 4th place she achieved, Dupré retired from the music business in 1958 as she felt that rock and roll was eclipsing the music she performed. She turned to interior design, where her most notable work is the terminal of the São Paulo airport.

The first entry for the United Kingdom was performed by Patricia Berdin. Her entry “All” was only 1 minute 52 seconds long and is thus the shortest performance ever at a Eurovision Song Contest. “All” was also the first ever Eurovision entry in the English language which would come to dominate the contest later on. Bredin sang with conviction and in soprano (?), but the jurors were not impressed. The glorious days of the UK at Eurovision were still ahead: In 1957, the Brits only got 6 points and 7th place.

The time the UK had not used was filled by Italy. “Corde della mia chitarra” by Nunzio Gallo was, with 5 minutes 9 seconds, roughly 3 minutes longer than the British entry and is the longest performance ever at a Eurovision Song Contest. The beautiful guitar solo by Piero Gozo at the beginning alone is almost one minute long and the (only) highlight of the performance. The rest oft he song is quite forgettable, however. Gallo asks the strings of his guitar to play for him as he has realized that his former lover is no longer interested in him. The jurors had 7 points which was enough to reach 6th place. The excessive length of the entry was one of the reasons to limit a song to 3,5 minutes (later to 3 minutes)

Austria sent Bob Martin with a moderately up-tempo number to its neighboring country. Martin asks his little pony (The songs title is “Kleines Pony” (Little Pony)) where they should travel today. Despite the rather modern orchestration, the senseless lyrics probably destroyed any chance of Austria making a good debut. With one point form the Netherlands and two from the United Kingdom, Austria came last and the first participation was thus a portent for future Austrian failures at the contest.

Germany sent the winner of their national selection. The popular film actress (until 1994 she appeared in over 50 movies) and singer Margot Hielscher presented what can be seen as the first gimmick performance in Eurovision. She is singing to a telephone (“Telefon”) and says she enjoys receiving news (from her lover). During the performance an actual telephone rings, she picks up the telephone receiver and answers in French, English, German and Spanish. Can you imagine someone singing to his smart phone or netbook in Eurovision today? (Remember San Marino 2012??). Incidentally, the song was written by one Ralph Maria Siegel, father of the German Mr. Eurovision Ralph Siegel (again San Marino 2012!!). Hilscher came 4th in the end and the gimmick box of Pandora was opened.

France sent Paule Desjardins with a typical chanson. “La belle amour” (“How else could a song from France be called” as Mrs. Iplicjian put it) is a praise of spending time with one’s lover in a wonderful restaurant on the outskirts of a city. The change of feelings is compared to the change of seasons. Desjardins performed the song with excessive facial expressions. Despite of because of that, the jurors liked the song and it came 2nd.

The first Scandinavian entry in the contest was from Denmark. Birthe Wilke & Gustav Winckler were also the first duo ever to perform on a Eurovision stage. Their Skibet skal sejle i nat (“The ship is leaving tonight”) is a love duet in which a woman says goodbye to her husband, who will go on a sea voyage on said ship. The two acted out the lyrics of the song for the entertainment of the few television viewers: Gustav wore a captain’s uniform, while Birthe was dressed in what can only be assumed to be a rain coat. He shows her a picture of hers that he kisses and then puts into his pocket. He then also gives her a ring to remember him by. At the end of the performance the two exchanged the longest kiss in Eurovision history: 11 seconds as one member of the production staff had allegedly forgot to make a pre-arranged sign that the kiss should stop. In the prude 50s this created somewhat of a scandal in some countries. The second gimmick performance of the evening also did well: Top 3 for Denmark and a good start for Scandinavia into a bright Eurovision future.

Switzerland sent the winner of the previous year. Lys Assia had won the 1956 with her song “Refrain” which reserved her a place in the audience of many Eurovisions still to come (most recently in 2012). Her third performance at the Eurovision stage (in 1956 she had performed both Swiss entries) was not as successful as her first one. Her slow nostalgic chanson “L’enfant que j’étais” only came 8th.

The Netherlands sent their representative from 1956 again: Corry Brokken performed her song “Net als toen” (Not as it used to be) smilingly and cheekily. She sings to her husband and asks him, whether he remembers their early days as a couple, suggesting that the romance they once had is now gone. The beautiful orchestration with a violin solo and jazz elements as well as Brokken’s fresh performance apparently convinced the judges: The Netherlands won the competition with 31 points by a big margin. Brokken returned the following year and came last. She is thus the only artist to have come first and last.

For modern eyes, the voting was quite peculiar. In front of the camera, two men carried in a table with two telephones. The hostess had a personal assistant who established the connections to the ten juries. Each country had designated 10 jurors and each of them could give one point to his/her favorite song. Pointing at a map of Western Europe behind her, Anaïd Iplicjian also pointed out that „the map is supposed to portray the big distances the telephone connections have to travel”. She had some trouble with the language changes typical for a Eurovision voting. For instance, she addressed the Danish jury in German. Copenhagen quite obviously did not understand her and then answered in English. To which Anaïd Iplicjian said quite surprisedly “Oh, do you speak English?”. Furthermore, after speaking to the French jury, she called “Francfort” in French and added “Well, they do speak German, don’t they”. Exactly one hour after the start of the program, the Netherlands were announced as the winners. The head of the Hessische Rundfunk thanked Brokken in Dutch for her beautiful song.

Watch the full contest:

Here is the scoreboard:

Place Country Artist Song Points
1 Netherlands Corry Brokken Net als toen 31
2 France Paule Desjardins La belle amour 17
3 Denmark Birthe Wilke & Gustav Winckler Skibet skal sejle i nat 10
4 Luxembourg Danièle Dupré Tant de peine 8
4 Germany Margot Hielscher Telefon, Telefon 8
6 Italy Nunzio Gallo Corde della mia chitarra 7
7 United Kingdom Patricia Bredin All 6
8 Belgium Bobbejaan Schoepen Straatdeuntje 5
9 Switzerland Lys Assia L’enfant que j’étais 5
10 Austria Bob Martin Wohin kleines Pony ? 3

Inspirations: youtube, wikipedia, Klaus Berg – ESC Geschichte(n)

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<<< 1956   |   1958 >>>

8 thoughts on “Eurovision Song Contest 1957 (Frankfurt)

  1. Now when the silly season of Eurovision is here, I’m gonna use some of my spare time to comment the ESC editions we have here on ET. So I begin now with the 1957 one. Feel free to comment, anyone.

    Denmark: A great debut by Denmark, and their third best ESC song ever imo. The chemistry between Gustav and Birthe is great, and so is the blending of their vocals. Not to add that the song itself is a very “smuk” one with neat, narrative lyrics. And I must also mention the orchestration which sounds a bit like a steamboat, creating a perfect atmosphere. (10/12)

    The Netherlands: After an okey start in 1956, Corry Brokken returns with a real gem; one of the best ESC winners. “Net als toen” is, just like the Danish entry, a song that gets much of its qualities from the narrative lyrics. And they are indeed lovely. But the violin, together with Brokken’s calm and deep vocals, is doing a great job to express the nostalgic touch of them to all non-Dutch speakers. (10/12)

    Switzerland: I like this one much more than “Refrain”. They are very similiar, both in tune and theme. The nostalgic longing of a lost childhood comes out much better here, with the restrained composition, and with the pastoral scent of the lyrics. And that’s what Eulenspiegel loves. (9/12)

    Luxembourg: There is not much to say about this, except that it is a fine and well-delivered chanson. It doesn’t hold a match against those that would come in the 60’s but they are absolutely worth listening to. (8/12)

    France: See Luxembourg. (8/12)

    Germany: The first gimmick in Eurovision was born already in 1957. This is a smooth but yet a playful Schlager of the old school. Ralph Siegel’s father has provided it with these cute, charming lyrics about praising the telephone invention. And I think Margot performed it in a fine way without using too much of the telephone gimmick on stage. Finally, I also need to mention the use of multilingual lines, which Siegel Jr. would use a couple of times in the future. The apple does not fall far from the tree. (8/12)

    Italy: The looooooongest song in Eurovision history, and it feels almost as if it never will end while you’re listening to it. The song is standard sweet and romantic in the typical Italian way, but it is Nunzio Galli’s singing that makes this song really soar. He’s lifting it up to some higher degrees and that makes it quite enjoyable through all the five minutes. (7/12)

    United Kingdom: The first UK entry was probably as far away from the typical music scene of UK as possible. And while the Italian one was unnecessarily long, this is definitely unnecessarily short. The melody is nice but unfortunately too weak imo, and it doesn’t get better with Patricia’s operatic voice which I don’t think fits this kind of song and orchestration. A lukewarm beginning for the UK. (6/12)

    Belgium: When you’ve heard all the songs for the first time, this will be the one that sticks in your mind afterwards. The song is catchy, but at the same time rather irritating, and it sounds almost like a trololo song from YouTube. Btw, the whistling part in a song is almost never preferable, and often works as a filler for the rest of it. (4/12)

    Austria: I wouldn’t consider this one as hateful as togravus for example thinks. It is though pretty cheesy and the lyrics are quite stupid. The orchestration goes from slammery to more calm in a way that doesn’t fit the song, but in the end of the day, it’s actually a rather soothing little melody if you just ignore most other things about it. (4/12)

    • You have such a fine feeling for sensing what is good in almost every song. :)
      Looking forward to reading more reviews.

      Yay, summer holidays start tomorrow. :)

      • Thankee, and happy holiday! :)

        We’ve had a beautiful and warm day today, but tomorrow we’ll get a lot of thunder according to the weather forecast, so I’ll not be able to use my computer then, probably. Not to mention that we’re celebrating Midsummer then, so I wonder how that will end…

        The average score of 1957 was 7,40 for me, compared to your 4,60. I see that we disagree rather much on this edition. ;)

        • I haven’t done 1957 with my new scoring system yet but I expect this contest to improve score-wise with my next review. I have always felt that I was a bit biased against 1957 because everytime I watched the contest it came as a bit of a let down after the fantastic song quality the 1956 contest had on offer. Anyway, I love ‘Net als toen’ but both Belgium and Austria will always drag my average score down, even if I do not expect ‘Wohin kleines Pony?’ to end up with a 0/12 once again. After all, even the Babushki managed to score 0.20/12 … (1 point for lyrics …)

          The thunderstorms have just passed Stuttgart and told me that they were heading straight to Trollhättan next. ;)

          Enjoy Midsummer. :)

          • Thank you. It will probably be much indoor celebration with some friends, though they’re not very interested in celebrating holidays (unlike me). Ah, so the thunderclouds come from Stuttgart. I thought I could feel some parrot smell in the air… ;)

            Can you tell me why “Wohin, kleines Pony” is in the toggie ESC hell? Is it the melody, the lyrics, the singing or everything?

            • The combination of everything you mentioned. Both lyrics and composition are terribly silly and Bob Martin was a very weak live singer by 50s/60s standards. The orchestration is lame and uninspired too. Plus it is the first ESC song ever I do not like at alll, which makes it stand out in a bad way.

              Rather petrol than parrots methinks …

  2. A lot better than 1958, without containg any horrors, but no real masterpieces either.

    For a rock’n roller like me it can be difficult to really appreciate the contests from the 50’s. All in all it tends to be too decent and sugar sweet for my taste, whereas in 1963-67 we’ll se some songs with a little more edge and depth (e.g. “En gång i Stockholm”, “Boum badaboum”, “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”, “For din skyld”).

    Fortunately most of the entries here in 1957 have good vocalists (perhaps with the exception of Austria), and some of the songs are actually lifted that way.

    As for “Wohin kleines Pony” we can agree that it’s very silly, but somehow it’s a fascinating kind of silliness. Like with Belarus 2010 kitsch factor makes it an interesting experience, but it doesn’t make it a good song.

    9/12: Netherlands, Denmark
    8/12: Italy, Switzerland
    7/12: Luxembourg, France
    6/12: UK
    5/12: Germany
    4/12: Belgium, Austria
    Average: 6,70

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