Recalling the Copenhagen contest of 50 years ago
Many visitors to this site will recall the last time Copenhagen staged the Eurovision Song Contest in 2001 in the huge Parken Stadium. However fewer will recall the first time that Denmark hosted the contest, way back on the 21st of March, 1964. Today we recall the 50th anniversary of that contest.
As winners of the 1963 event, with the song Dansevise sung by Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann, Danish broadcaster DR had the task of organising the 1964 contest.
They chose the Concert Hall in the Tivoli Gardens in the centre of Copenhagen as the venue, which could seat an audience of around 1600.
There were some changes to the line-up. from the previous year, Portugal made their debut, though Sweden were obliged to withdraw, due to a strike by their Musicians Union. This left the the total number of entrants at 16. The total audience was expected to be around 100 million viewers.
Rehearsals commenced on Wednesday the 18th of March, with the artists being accompanied by the 42 piece Grand Prix Orchestra, with Kai Mortensen as the Musical Director.
The programme was presented by Lotte Wæver, and was around 96 minutes in duration.
- Luxembourg: Dès Que Le Printemps Revient sung by Hugues Aufray
- Netherlands:Jij Bent Mijn Leven sung by Anneke Grönloh
- Norway: Spiral sung by Arne Bendiksen
- Denmark: Sangen Om Dig sung by Bjørn Tidmand
- Finland: Laiskotellen sung by Lasse Mårtenson
- Austria: Warum, Nur, Warum sung by Udo Jürgens
- France: Le Chant De Mallory sung by Rachel
- United Kingdom: I Love The Little Things sung by Matt Monro
- Germany: Man Gewöhnt Sich So Schnell An Das Schöne sung by Nora Nova
- Monaco: Où Sont-elles Passées? sung by Romuald
- Portugal: Oração sung by António Calvário
- Italy: Non Ho L'étà sung by Gigliola Cinquetti
- Yugoslavia: Zivot, Je Sklopio Krug sung by Sabahudin Kurt
- Switzerland: I Miei Pensieri sung by Anita Traversi
- Belgium: Près De Ma Rivière sung by Robert Cogoi
- Spain: Caracola sung by Nelly, Tim and Tony
For two of the artists, this was the first of their three appearances in the contest. Udo Jürgens for Austria would represent his country again in 1965, and most notably in 1966 when he won the contest with the song Merci Chérie. Romuald would return to represent Luxembourg in 1969, and in 1974 he once again represented Monaco, where he gained a respectable fourth place with Celui Qui Reste Et Celui Qui S'en Va.
Following the performance by the Swiss entrant, a protestor rushed on stage holding a banner that said 'Boycott Franco and Salazar' (the dictators who were in power in Spain and Portugal). He was quickly removed, as cameras cut to a shot of the scoreboard.
For the third year in a row a new voting system was introduced, this one would last slightly longer than the previous systems and remained in force until 1966.
Each country had 10 jury members who distributed three points among their one, two, or three favourite songs. The points were added and the first, second, and third placed songs were awarded 5, 3, and 1 votes in order. [If only one song got every point within the jury it would get all 9 points. If only two songs were chosen, the songs would get 6 and 3 points in order].
You can see the breakdown of the voting in the History page for 1964 on our site. The countries voted in that of performance order.
It was somewhat of a runaway victory for Italy, taking the lead in the very first round and never looked in doubt, gaining almost three times the number of votes as the runner up from the United Kingdom.
Watch the 1964 winner
About the winner
Gigliola Cinquetti was born on the 20th December, 1947 in Verona. Aged just sixteen, she won the San Remo Festival in 1964 with Non Ho L'età which provided her the opportunity to present the song to a wider audience in Europe's Favourite TV show. The song went onto become a big international hit.
She went onto win the San Remo Festival again in 1966 with Dio Come Ti Amo, although this time it was the composer Domenico Modugno who took the song onto the Eurovision Song Contest, with a less successful outcome, when he finished in joint last place.
Gigliola Cinquetti returned to the contest in 1974, when she finished second with the song Si, which also went onto become a big international hit. Her last association to date with the contest was in 1991 when she co-presented the contest, along with Toto Cutugno, when it was staged in Rome.
She became a professional journalist, and works in presenting current affair programmes.
Did you know?
- The winning song reached the top 20 in the charts of Italy, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.
- Cinquetti also recorded the song in English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese.
- The 1964 contest is one of two contests that is no longer known to exist in any television archive (the other being the inaugural event in 1956).
- Some newsreel footage exists of the winning performance by Gigliola Cinquetti, along with a few brief broadcast clips, including some from the opening minutes.