Saturday 15 May 1971


The following article is an overview of the career of Italian violinist and conductor Fernando Paggi. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Fernando Paggi's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2010

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Fernando Paggi
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: July 3rd, 1914, Turin (Italy)
Died: January 14th, 1973, Canobbio (Switzerland)
Nationality: Italian

Fernando Paggi, conductor of the Radio Monte Ceneri Orchestra, was the musical director of the very first Eurovision Song Contest, held in Lugano in 1956. Paggi conducted 6 of the 14 entries that evening: apart from both Swiss entries (including the winning ‘Refrain’), he helped out the Dutch and West German delegations, neither of which had brought along a guest conductor. In 1961 and 1964, he travelled to Cannes and Copenhagen respectively to direct the orchestral accompaniment to the Swiss candidates in the contest (Franca Di Rienzo and Anita Traversi respectively).


Fernando Paggi hailed from Turin in Northern Italy, where he first pursued a career in commerce. In 1931, however, he decided to start studies in harmony, saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet at the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Lausanne, Switzerland; considering he had already done violin courses from his eight year, Paggi became a professional in four musical instruments. During his studies, he practiced extensively by performing popular music in different bands and ensembles in bars and inns.

In 1940, when Paggi had already worked for some time as a violinist in the classical Kursaal Orchestra in Lugano, he was asked to step in as the musical director of the orchestra of the Italian-Swiss broadcaster, Radio Monte Ceneri (later known as RSI, Radio Svizzera Italiana), which he transformed from an amateur ensemble to a professional light entertainment orchestra. It did not take long before Paggi’s Orchestra Radiosa became a household name in popular music, accompanying many of the best-known Italian singers of the 1940s and 1950s, such as Natalino Otto, Tony Dallara, Nilla Pizzi, and Giorgio Consolini, in widely listened-to variety shows. During his time in charge of the orchestra, Paggi worked with able arrangers such as Iller Pattacini, Willy Fehlbaum, Aldo D’Addario, Mario Robbiani, and Attilio Donadio.

Apart from the Orchestra Radiosa, Fernando Paggi also had his own quintet of musicians, with whom he performed in a long-running RSI music programme, Capriccio notturno. He was the producer of several international music shows, in which RSI collaborated with RSR (French-Swiss broadcaster), WDR from West Germany, and Paris-Inter from France. 

Although Paggi mainly worked as a musical director, he left a legacy of compositions, too. In 1943, on the occasion of the Lugano Fair, he wrote the music to an Alberto Barberis revue show. He composed a full-fledged opera, Edgardo e Margherita (libretto by Valentino Margiò), which was broadcasted by RSI in March 1949. Moreover, Paggi wrote a string of songs, most famously ‘Sarò mammina’ (sung by Maddalena Sanvido) and ‘Tu te souviendras de moi’ (by Yvette Giraud, 1948), as well as Ticino dialect repertoire (e.g. ‘Ul parisien’, ‘Chitarra ticinese’). For the Tour de Suisse cycling race, he penned the signature march.

In 1967, Paggi stepped down as chief conductor of the Orchestra Radiosa, being succeeded by one of the arrangers who had been writing for the orchestra for over 15 years, Mario Robbiani. From 1969 until his untimely death in 1973, Paggi was the head of RSI’s Light Entertainment department.

Paggi leading his Orchestra Radiosa


The first ever ‘Eurovision Grand Prix’ took place on May 24, 1956 in the Kursaal Theatre, Lugano. All fourteen entries, coming from seven participating countries, were accompanied by Fernando Paggi’s Orchestra Radiosa. Only Belgium, Luxembourg, and France had sent along guest conductors, Léo Souris, Jacques Lasry, and Franck Pourcel respectively. Dolf van der Linden from the Netherlands, who had been the musical director of the Dutch preselection, was unable to travel to Switzerland due to the fact that, for exactly the same day as the Eurovision Song Contest, an appointment had been set to perform with his Metropole Orchestra for Dutch army regiments. That is the reason why Fernando Paggi became the first ever conductor in the contest, as the Netherlands were drawn first with their entry ‘De vogels van Holland’, a waltz melody performed by Jetty Paerl.

Subsequently, Paggi also led the orchestra for 5 other entries: ‘Das alte Karussell’, performed for Switzerland by Lys Assia; ‘Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück’, a pensive entry from West Germany sung by its composer, Walter Andreas Schwarz; the second Dutch entry, ‘Voorgoed voorbij’, sung by Corry Brokken; the eventual winner, ‘Refrain’, a chanson performed by Lys Assia, arranged by Mario Robbiani; and, finally, one of the most striking entries of the evening, ‘So geht das jede Nacht’, an early attempt at rock ‘n’ roll mixed with country influences sung in German by Freddy Quinn. When, at the end of the show, Lys Assia wanted to repeat her winning entry, she was so overwhelmed by emotions, that she was unable to remember the first lines of the lyrics and had to ask Fernando Paggi to restart the intro of the song.

Paggi returned to the Eurovision Song Contest on two occasions as the conductor for Switzerland. In 1961, when the festival took place in Cannes on the French Riviera, he conducted the orchestral accompaniment to Franca Di Rienzo’s ‘Nous aurons demain’, which had been written by the same authors as the winning ‘Refrain’ of 1956, Géo Voumard and Emile Gardaz, and placed 3rd. Three years later, in 1964, Switzerland was represented by Anita Traversi with a song in Italian, ‘I miei pensieri’. However, the subtlety of this delicate ballad – arranged by Albert Brunner, who had given it a beautiful instrumental break in the middle – was lost on European jurors and did not receive a single point.

Fernando Paggi leading his orchestra for the reprise of Lys Assia's performance of 'Refrain' - Teatro Kursaal, Lugano (1956)


Unfortunately, so far it has not been possible to gather memories of other artists on Fernando Paggi.


Country – Netherlands (A)
Song title – “De vogels van Holland”
Rendition – Jetty Paerl
Lyrics – Annie M.G. Schmidt
Composition – Cor Lemaire
Studio arrangement – none
Live orchestration – Pi Scheffer
Conductor – Fernando Paggi (MD)
Score – unknown

Country – Switzerland (A)
Song title – “Das alte Karussel”
Rendition – Lys Assia
Lyrics – Georg Betz-Stahl
Composition – Georg Betz-Stahl
Studio arrangement – Mario Robbiani
(Orchestra Radiosa conducted by Fernando Paggi)
Live orchestration – Mario Robbiani
Conductor – Fernando Paggi (MD)
Score – unknown

Country – West Germany (A)
Song title – “Im Wartesaal zum grossen Glück”
Rendition – Walter Andreas Schwarz
Lyrics – Walter Andreas Schwarz
Composition – Walter Andreas Schwarz
Studio arrangement – Hans Georg Arlt
Live orchestration – Hans Georg Arlt
Conductor – Fernando Paggi (MD)
Score – unknown

Country – Netherlands (B)
Song title – “Voorgoed voorbij”
Rendition – Corry Brokken
Lyrics – Jelle de Vries
Composition – Jelle de Vries
Studio arrangement – none
Live orchestration – Bert Paige
Conductor – Fernando Paggi (MD)
Score – unknown

Country – Switzerland (B)
Song title – “Refrain”
Rendition – Lys Assia
Lyrics – Emile Gardaz
Composition – Géo Voumard
Studio arrangement – Mario Robbiani
(Orchestra Radiosa conducted by Fernando Paggi)
Live orchestration – Mario Robbiani
Conductor – Fernando Paggi (MD)
Score – 1st place

Country – West Germany (B)
Song title – “So geht das jede Nacht”
Rendition – Freddy Quinn
Lyrics – Peter Mösser
Composition – Lotar Olias
Studio arrangement – Lotar Olias / Horst Wende
(Horst Wende Tanz-Solisten conducted by Horst Wende)
Live orchestration – Lotar Olias / Horst Wende
Conductor – Fernando Paggi (MD)
Score – unknown

Country – Switzerland
Song title – “Nous aurons demain”
Rendition – Franca Di Rienzo
Lyrics – Emile Gardaz
Composition – Géo Voumard
Studio arrangement – Hubert Degex
(studio orchestra conducted by Hubert Degex)
Live orchestration – Hubert Degex
Conductor – Fernando Paggi
Score – 3rd place (16 votes)

Country – Switzerland
Song title – “I miei pensieri”
Rendition – Anita Traversi
Lyrics – Sanzio Chiesa
Composition – Giovanni Pelli
Studio arrangement – Albert Brunner
Live orchestration – Albert Brunner
Conductor – Fernando Paggi
Score – 13th place (0 votes)

  • Part of a documentary in which Fernando Paggi can be heard recalling the founding of his orchestra can be accessed by following this YouTube link 
  • The website of the Società Svizzera di Musicologia, which can be accessed by following this link
  • An interview with Angelo Parini on the founding of the Orchestra Radiosa, available online on the website of Fonoteca Nazionale Svizzera. Moreover, on the online databank of this website, a long list of broadcasts and recordings can be found in which Fernando Paggi took part
  • An interview with Dolf van der Linden by Gerrit den Braber for AVRO Radio, July 24th, 1985

Friday 14 May 1971


Born: December 27th, 1908, Odense (Denmark)
Died: March 9th, 1989, Helsingør (Denmark)
Nationality: Danish

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Kai Mortensen was a violinist, composer, and conductor. He went to music school in Odense; later, he took lessons with Max Schlüter. When he was 16, he was already touring as a violinist and a conductor in different bands. In subsequent years, he played for Jens Warny and Teddy Petersen. In 1948, he became the conductor of the Kabaret Orkester. 

Three years later, he took up the baton of the light entertainment orchestra of Danish Radio, the DR Unterholdningsorkester. With his orchestra, he accompanied many radio and television shows. He presented the radio programme Meloditimen himself. As a composer, he wrote several light classical works, the most famous one being ‘Den drilartige violin’ (The teasing violin). He conducted studio orchestras for recordings with many Danish artists, amongst whom Gustav Winckler. He was musical director of the 1974 animation film Fra poetens pen


Kai Mortensen was one of the usual guest conductors in the early years of the Eurovision Song Contest. From Denmark’s first participation in 1957 until 1964, he conducted all the entries submitted by the Scandinavian country. He did not contribute as an orchestrator to any of these entries, but conducted the studio orchestras for the record versions on multiple occasions - with the scores mostly written by Arne Lamberth. During all those years, he also was the musical director of the Danish preselection, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. In 1963, he belonged to the Danish team that won the contest in London with ‘Dansevise’ (sung by Grethe and Jørgen Ingman). 

When, the year after, the contest was staged in Copenhagen, all songs were accompanied by the Unterholdningsorkester and Kai Mortensen was the musical director. Because Portugal had not sent along a guest conductor, Mortensen also conducted the – very first – Portuguese entry, ‘Oração’, which had been arranged by Joaquim Luís Gomes and conducted in the Portuguese heats by Armando Tavares Belo. After 1964, Mortensen never participated in the contest anymore. All in all, he conducted nine Eurovision songs.


Country – Denmark
Song title – “Skibet skal sejle i nat”
Rendition – Birthe Wilke & Gustav Winckler
Lyrics – Poul Sørensen
Composition – Erik Fiehn
Studio arrangement – Arne Lamberth
(Statsradiosinfoniens Danseorkester conducted by Kai Mortensen)
Live orchestration – Arne Lamberth
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 3rd place (10 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Jeg rev et blad ud af min dagbog”
Rendition – Raquel Rastenni
Lyrics – Harry Jensen / Sven Ulrik
Composition – Harry Jensen / Sven Ulrik
Studio arrangement – Arne Lamberth
(Statsradiosinfoniens Danseorkester conducted by Kai Mortensen)
Live orchestration – Arne Lamberth
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 8th place (3 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Uh – jeg ville ønske jeg var dig”
Rendition – Birthe Wilke
Lyrics – Carl Andersen
Composition – Otto Lington
Studio arrangement – Arne Lamberth
(Radio Danseorkestret conducted by Arne Lamberth)
Live orchestration – Arne Lamberth
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 5th place (12 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Det var en yndig tid”
Rendition – Katy Bødtger
Lyrics – Sven Buemann
Composition – Vilfred Kjær
Studio arrangement – Morten Reesen
(Grand Prix Orkestret conducted by Morten Reesen)
Live orchestration – Morten Reesen
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 10th place (4 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Angelique”
Rendition – Dario Campeotto
Lyrics – Aksel V. Rasmussen
Composition – Aksel V. Rasmussen
Studio arrangement – Otto Francker
(studio orchestra conducted by Kai Mortensen)
Live orchestration – Otto Francker
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 5th place (12 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Vuggevise”
Rendition – Ellen Winther
Lyrics – Sejr Volmer Sørensen
Composition – Kjeld Bonfils
Studio arrangement – Poul Clemensen
(studio orchestra conducted by Kai Mortensen)
Live orchestration – Poul Clemensen
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 10th place (2 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Dansevise”
Rendition – Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann
Lyrics – Sejr Volmer-Sørensen
Composition – Otto Francker
Studio arrangement – Otto Francker / Arne Lamberth
Live orchestration – Otto Francker / Arne Lamberth
Conductor – Kai Mortensen
Score – 1st place (42 votes)

Country – Denmark
Song title – “Sangen om dig”
Rendition – Bjørn Tidmand
Lyrics – Mogens Dam
Composition – Aksel V. Rasmussen
Studio arrangement – Ole Høyer
(studio orchestra conducted by Ole Høyer)
Live orchestration – Ole Høyer
Conductor – Kai Mortensen (MD)
Score – 9th place (4 votes)

Country – Portugal
Song title – "Oração"
Rendition – António Calvário
Lyrics – Rogério Braçinha / Francisco Nicholson
Composition – João Nobre
Studio arrangement – Joaquim Luís Gomes
(studio orchestra conducted by Joaquim Luís Gomes)
Live orchestration – Joaquim Luís Gomes
Conductor – Kai Mortensen (MD) 
Score – 13th place (0 votes)

Saturday 8 May 1971


Born: February 16th, 1920, Fredrikstadt (Norway)
Died: December 15th, 1997, Oslo (Norway)
Nationality: Norwegian

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Karsten Andersen studied at the Oslo Musikkonservatorium and made his debut as a violinist in 1939. During the war years, he was a member of the Filharmonisk Selskaps Orkester in Oslo. In 1947, he spent a year in Siena, Italy, to study at the Accademia Chigiana.

Between 1945 and 1964, Andersen lived in Stavanger, where he was the conductor of the Stavanger Byorkester, a classical orchestra, as well as the musical director of the entertainment orchestra of the local NRK broadcasting station. In 1964, Andersen took up the job of conductor of the Musikkselskabet Harmonien (the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra), which he would fulfil for more than twenty years, moreover functioning as the ensemble’s artistic director from 1966 onwards. Between 1970 and 1976, he also was the principal conductor of the Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands (the Iceland Symphony Orchestra). Over the years, Andersen made appearances as a guest conductor with various renowned ensembles abroad, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (London) and the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Between 1985 and 1988, the year he retired from music, he was a professor and musical director at the Norges Musikkhøgskole, co-founding a youth orchestra, the Ungdomssymfonikerne (in collaboration with Leif Jørgensen and Harry Kvebaek). During his career, Karsten Andersen composed some modern classical works. For his services to Norwegian music, he was rewarded with the Norsk Kulturråds Musikkpris (1974) and the Norske Stats Kunstnerpris (1975).


Karsten Andersen made one appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1964, when he replaced the regular Norwegian conductor of those years, Øivind Bergh; at that time, Bergh was in the United States for reasons of study. Andersen, in one of his lasts assignments for NRK (he resigned later in 1964 to work for the Harmonien in Bergen), conducted ‘Spiral’, a song composed by Sigurd Jansen and arranged by Carsten Klouman. Interpreted by Arne Bendiksen, this effort came eighth in a field of sixteen entries. Jansen, Klouman, and Bendiksen all returned to the contest as conductors of Norwegian Eurovision entries in their own right later onwards.


Country – Norway
Song title – "Spiral"
Rendition – Arne Bendiksen
Lyrics – Egil Hagen
Composition – Sigurd Jansen
Studio arrangement – Carsten Klouman
Live orchestration – Carsten Klouman
Conductor – Karsten Andersen
Score – 8th place (6 votes)

Saturday 1 May 1971


Born: May 25th, 1929, Igny, Greater Paris (France)
Died: September 21st, 1995, Evreux (France)
Nationality: French

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Jacques Denjean worked as a composer and arranger in the 1960s, accompanying many of the best-known Francophone artists, including Dalida, Charles Aznavour, Françoise Hardy, Nana Mouskouri, Sacha Distel, and Johnny Halliday. He also penned several film scores, including ‘Adieu Philippine’ (1962) and ‘Morbo’ (1972), as well as the music to the televised feuilleton ‘Vive la vie’ (1966). Moreover, Jacques Denjean released several instrumental jazz records under his own name in the course of the 1960s. He was a member of vocal group Les Double Six.

Jacques Denjean is the younger brother of Claude Denjean, who took part as a conductor in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest.


In the 1960s, Jacques Denjean also worked as the arranger of Hugues Aufray. When Aufray represented the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg in the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen with ‘Dès que le printemps revient’, Denjean wrote the orchestration and conducted the Danish orchestra during the international final. With his self-penned entry, Hugues Aufray came fourth. 

The year before, Jacques Denjean had a modest involvement in Raymond Bernard's Eurovision composition 'A force de prier', interpreted by Nana Mouskouri. For this song, arranged by Robert Chauvigny, Denjean conducted the orchestra in the studio session. In the contest itself, the honours were taken by British resident conductor Eric Robinson.


Country – Luxembourg
Song title – "A force de prier"
Rendition – Nana Mouskouri
Lyrics – Pierre Delanoë
Composition – Raymond Bernard
Studio arrangement – Robert Chauvigny 
(studio orchestra conducted by Jacques Denjean)
Live orchestration – Robert Chauvigny
Conductor – Eric Robinson
Score – 8th place (13 votes)

Country – Luxembourg
Song title – "Dès que le printemps revient"
Rendition – Hugues Aufray 
Lyrics – Jacques Plante
Composition – Hugues Aufray
Studio arrangement – Jacques Denjean
Live orchestration – Jacques Denjean
Conductor – Jacques Denjean
Score – 4th place (14 votes)