Adagio and Allegro 1955 ACA 15 min.
For string orchestra.
(Version of Quartet No. 3 for Strings, 1949.)
“Relatively austere was the mood of…Adagio and Allegro.  The piece came to grips with serious feelings in an independent, searching way.  It had interesting, original ideas of sonority and made a strong effect.”
– Alexander Fried, San Francisco Examiner, Mar. 25, 1957
“It has…solidity, integrity of craftsmanship, feeling, and a resoundingly brilliant string layout.”
- William Flanagan, New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 19, 1957

A Green Mountain Overture 1948, revised 1953. ACA 6 min.
3-3-3-3, 4-3-3-1, perc, hp, pf, str.
Written for the Vermont State Symphony, Alan Carter conducting.
“…plenty going on, but few difficulties for listeners; much contrast in the orchestral shadings and a clearly pronounced thematic and rhythmic vocabulary.”
- David B. Pennel, the Argus (Seattle), Aug. 20, 1949
“…a sparkling, vivid piece.  It is based upon three main motives: the first diatonic, almost dancelike in spite of the changing meter, the second lyric and very expressive, the third chordic….  The transparency of the orchestra writing is remarkable.”
- Paul A. Pisk, ACA Bulletin, 1954

A Testament of Life 1959 EH 24 min.
2-2-2-2, 4-3-3-1, perc, hp or pf, mixed chorus, tenor and bass soli, str.
Text compiled by the composer from Biblical sources.  Commissioned by the Claude M. Almand Memorial Fund.
“…a work of major proportions by one of America’s foremost composers…The new composition is a sacred cantata, in one continuous movement.  Stevens’s music illuminates the Biblical texts aptly and imaginatively.  It is practical, and does not thwart itself making unreasonable demands on the performers.  In style it…pursues its own version of contemporary musical thought.  The composer was present to conduct the performance, at the close of which he received a well-deserved ovation.”
– Roger Cushman, DeLand (Florida) Sun-News, April 10, 1959

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra 1964 ACA 18½ min.
Allegro moderato ma giusto

Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra 1969 PEER 18:02
For Lee Gibson, commissioned by his friends and students.

Five Pieces 1958 PEER 10:38
2-2-2-2, 4-3-3-1, timp, perc, str.

Four Short Pieces 1954 ACA 7 min.
1-1-2-1, 2-1-0-0, timp, str.

Improvisation of “Divinum Mysterium” 1953 PEER 2¼ min.
For strings.
Transposed from original for organ.

Sinfonia Breve 1957 ACA 14½ min.
2-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1, perc, hp, pf, cel, str.
Commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra.
Recorded by the Louisville Orchestra, Robert Whitney conducting.
“The new work is in every way more lean and spare [than Triskelion].  Stevens has achieved an impressive ease as he works within his symphonic framework.  The shape of his short symphony is clear-cut, with a noticeable striving for classical simplicity of expression.  There is no waste.  Every moment counts.  In the outer movements the composer plays catch with his thematic fragments, tossing them around the orchestra with restrained playfulness.  But is is his slow movement that is most immediately appealing.  This is a somber poem that illuminates an inner dream world of great beauty.”
- William Mootz, Louisville Courier-Journal, Nov. 21, 1957.
“…a compact work, skillfully constructed, flavored tangily, and spun out with satisfying brevity.  Stevens’s writing is effective and sincere, his slow movements are romantically lovely, and there is never the element of banality anywhere.  While he uses a freely tonal style, he injects chromaticism deftly, giving it a quite individual stamp….  This is a rewarding work.”
- Oliver Danial, Saturday Review, Sept. 26, 1959

“Halsey Stevens of Los Angeles must stand high on anyone’s list of contemporary composers…Triskelion is one of the most remarkable pieces in the remarkable series commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra, but the Sinfonia Breve runs it a close second….  It has the size, thrust, largeness of gesture, and dramatic complexity that one associates with the symphony, but it is all boiled down to essentials in a most admirable style.”
- Alfred Frankenstein, High Fidelity, Oct. 1959

Symphonic Dances 1958 CFP 4¾ min.
3-3-3-3, 4-3-3-1, per, tim, 2 hp, pf (cel), str.
Commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, Enrique Jordá conductor, under a grant from the Ford Foundation to the American Music Center.“…Stevens’s work carried its load of responsibility with strength and grace….  It has a large design, a complexity, and thrust beyond the implications of its title.  It possesses a restrainedly nostalgic slow movement, and its outer movements have that electrically scintillating quality, produced by a very knowing mixture of harmonic and instrumental means, which are eminently characteristic of this composer’s orchestral writing.  It is a difficult piece and there were some tentative passages in the playing.  They will score more brilliantly when the work is repeated this afternoon.”
– Alfred Frankenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 12, 1958.

“This was exceedingly well-made music, rich and firm in texture but never heavy, with melodic ideas of attractive contours, fine rhythmic life and diversity, and cleanly effective scoring.”
– John E. Harvey, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 3, 1959

“…a beautiful display of contemporary orchestral writing at its very best….  [It's stylistic commitments] include a determined but fluid insistence on tonality; a motivic unity which, if not always immediately apparent, is nonetheless always felt; and a virtuoso use of the instruments for color effects which are, however, integral to the piece.
– Robert Parris, Washington Post, April 6, 1960

Symphony No. 1 1945, revised 1950. ACA 16½ min.
3-3-3-3, 4-3-3-1, perc, hp, pf, str.
Recorded by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Akeo Watanabe conducting.
“A compact creation within a single continuous movement, Stevens’s Symphony No. 1 has flow, contrast, individuality – the essentials of musical interest, whatever the mode of expression.  It also acquaints us with a musical mentality whose further works should be equally well worth knowing.”
– Irving Kolodin, Saturday Review, Dec. 26, 1959
“A fresh reading of the work that earned Composer Stevens a reputation as a promising modern about 15 years ago.  The symphony is fiery, marked by fresh melody and urgently contrasting rhythms, chock full of highly personal ideas.”
– Time, Jan. 4, 1960

“The symphony…is vigorously contrapuntal without being in the slightest degree academic; the work blazes with rhythmic inventiveness, is enchanting in its melodic freshness, and has a grandeur of address that stamps it as a symphony in the great tradition.  The jacket notes quote a somewhat similar opinion I expressed in a review published fourteen years ago, but the symphony sounds even better today.”
- Alfred Frankenstein, High Fidelity, Feb. 1960

The Ballad of William Sycamore 1955 ECS 18½ min.
2-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1, perc, hp, mixed chorus, str.
Text by Stephen Vincent Benét
Commissioned by the University of Southern California in celebration of its 75th anniversary.
“I thought the piece was the finest of the many I have heard from Stevens’s pen.  It used its folklike material without the slightest cheapness of banality.  The poetic moods were sensitively mirrored by the music, and the entire piece had an exuberance and ease of utterance which made it most pleasant to hear.”
– C.S. Hickman, Messenger (Los Angeles), Oct. 14, 1955

Threnos: In Memoriam Quincy Porter 1968 ACA 4¼ min.
3 (picc.)-2-2-2, 4-2-3-0, timp, perc, str.
Commissioned by the New Haven Symphony.

Triskelion 1953 ACA 20 min.
2-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1, perc, hp, pf, str.
Commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra, Robert Whitney conducting.
“Triskelion is the first work of Halsey Stevens…to appear on disks.  The title signifies an interrelated three-part form; the composition is actually a symphony in three movements, and an extremely fine one, a work of dignity, integrity, and deep resonance, with a first movement suggesting the concerto grosso texture, the second based on long melodic lines, the third a blazing dance.”
- Alfred Frankenstein, High Fidelity, Feb. 1955
“In effect, this work is a symphony….  After the slow introduction, in which the germinal material of the work is set forth, we hear an animated first movement…in concerto grosso style, interrupted by quieter passages of more personal expression.  The middle movement, emotionally and formally the high point of the work, is serious, intense, and austere.  Finally Stevens relaxes with a lively closing dance which suggests, though it does not imitate, the gay rondo of a Viennese classical symphony rather than the final triumphant apotheosis of many a Romantic work.”
– Dika Newlin, Pan Pipes, Mar. 1956