500 Years of Books


The first printed Norwegian book is 500 years old!
And to celebrate this event MiniØya, the music and arts festival for children in Oslo, has commissioned a new performance for May 2019.

Marianne Sundal

Together with my storytelling colleague Marianne Sundal I will develop and perform a piece currently with the innocuous title 500 Years of Books, a title that will probably be a tad more specific as we approach the premiere.

What are we actually celebrating this year? Well, in 1519 the first printed book related to Norway was published. This was a work titled Missale Nidrosiense, printed in Copenhagen for use in Norway.

Erik Walkendorf, arch bishop in Nidaros of Norway and close advisor and friend of King Christian II of Denmark-Norway, felt that there were too few liturgical books in our country. He made this right by ordering the abovementioned work and Brevarium Nidrosiense which was printed in Paris the same year, but fully finished some time after the Missale.

First page of Missale Nidrosiense with illustration of Walkendorf's coat of arms

The mass books we were using before these were printed were hand written, old, decaying and hard to decipher. With these books we got a far more standardised liturgical pratice in Norway.

The Missale was printed my master printer Paul Reff. There are nine copies of the Missale in Norway today and it is naturally a part of our country’s document heritage.

Will our performance concern any of these events? Will the art of book printing prove enticing for the IPad-generation? I look forward to find out. Come to the Storytelling Tent at MiniØya the 25th and 26th of May to figure it out yourself!

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