Sanremo Festival, origins and changes

The Sanremo Festival is the most famous singing event in Italy, held every year in the city of Sanremo, in Liguria. The Ariston theatre is well-known for hosting the festival’s performances, even if the date and location of it haven’t always been the same since its beginnings in 1951, when the festival was first officially celebrated.


A singing contest had already been proposed in 1931 in Sanremo, but due to the war time climate during these years, it was cancelled. In 1948 it was proposed again, and the Italian composer Aldo Valleroni organized the National Singing Festival at “La Capannina del Marco Polo” in Viareggio. It was such a success that it was redone the following year, but suspended in 1950 due to lack of funds. Nonetheless, the singing festival idea hadn’t been abandoned, and in the same year Angelo Nicola Amato, the organizer of Sanremo Casino’s public events along with Angelo Nizza, the host of the radio program “I quattro moschettieri” (the four musketeers), proposed the idea to the Italian entity for the radio hearings. The proposal was accepted thanks to the support of Pier Busetti and Giulio Razzi, who managed the beurocratic process. The first performance was held in 1951 with participation of only three artists. Nilla Pizzi ,singing “Grazie dei fior” was the winner. This first edition and the following three were transmitted by radio, and then on TV. At the beginning it had a simple program with back to back performances. In the following decades the structure of it became more complex, and live performances were accompanied by a respected orchestra. As mentioned previously, the festival wasn’t always held at the Ariston theatre- from 1951 to 1967 it was held at the local casino.

On a musical note, the Sanremo Festival has hosted both famous singers and musicians, as well as debuting artists as part of the “youth” category, which has a specific schedule during the festival. With the passing of time the Sanremo Festival has gone from being just a low-key musical festival, to an event with nation-wide popularity by virtue of the participation of famous entertainers including actors and comedians. The Festival has had numerous hosts including Mike Bongiorno, Pippo Baudo and Raimondo Vianello, along with other women. Even if it only lasts a few days (from Tuesday Feb 9th to Saturday the 13th in 2016), it is the most talked-about event of the month. Journalists prepare for it by hypothesizing about possible results, and it’s a buzzword and the subject of gossip news for weeks thereafter.

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