According to tradition, Louis XIV organized a contest between composers, giving them the same sacred text and a time to compose the musical setting. He alone was the judge. Delalande was one of four winners assigned to compose sacred music for the last quarter of the year year (the other composers being Coupillet, Collasse and Minoret). Delalande's was the most important quarter of the year because of the Christmas holiday.
Later he had full responsibility for the church music for the complete year. Delalande left many versions of his works. His earlier versions show adherance to French Baroque style, but the later revisions incorporate more Italian melismatic lines and greater attention to polyphonic counterpoint. Also, at least four collections of his works exist, each displaying different looks at composer's work as viewed by the people who assembled each collection. Scholarship of Delalande's work was for many years hindered because of inconsistencies in the spelling of his last name: de Lalande, Lalande, la Lande, de la Lande, and others. The family wrote the name as 'Delalande'. Finally, in 2006 the definitive "Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726)" by noted British musicologist Lionel Sawkins came out which runs to 752 pages containing over 3,000 music examples details of performing requirements and of all source materials, as well as with comprehensive indexes and thematic locators.
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