The Works of H. Leslie Adams
Ode to Life
Concert Overture.  12 minutes
2 flutes (with first flute alternating with piccolo) 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba; timpani; percussion (including xylophone, celesta, glockenspiel, tubular bells, maracas, snare and bass drums, cymbals and tam tam) and strings.
This is a tonal work in three sections with varying tempi. The first section (Allegro) begins quietly in the winds, and grows increasingly more rhythmic throughout the orchestra. The second section (Allegro moderato) introduces a two-part theme which recurs throughout the work, at first combined with the previous material, then gaining independence.
The third section (Moderato, con vivo) consists of four parts: 1) an energetic fugato played by the strings, followed by a secondary theme sounded first by the trumpet and oboe, then by the horns; 2) motivic development from the immediately preceding material heard in the brasses and strings, then in the full orchestra; 3) a brief lento passage continuously developing and 4) the return of the fugato, this time sounding in the woodwinds, then joined by the strings, percussion and brasses, bringing the work to a triumphant close.
Symphony No. 1
In four movements. [1976; 1977; 1978]. 56 minutes
Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 B flat clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 Bassoons; 4 F horns, 3 B flat trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone; tuba; Timpani; 3 percussionists; celesta; harp and strings.
The first movement has the tempo terms, Allegro; Molto maestoso and Presto. In a large sonata form, the 21-minute movement introduces the main themes, treats them fugally in an extended development, and recapitulates them while building to a rapid climax.
The second movement has the indications, Largo, Molto deciso, and Largo. In this 12-minute movement, a theme that tended to mentally recur to the Composer throughout his teen years is realized here.
The third movement, a quasi-scherzo, is marked, Allegro; Meno mosso; and Tempo 1. A playful main theme is first introduced in the strings, then winds, and set apart by several fugato passages before the full orchestra joins in echoing the melody. In the mid-section, the theme takes on an expanded quality, played by several combinations of solo and ensemble groupings. These thematic re-statements become increasingly more fragmented and complex and, after reaching an energetic peak, their density subsides and a transition leads to the return of the original spirited style, bringing this 6-minute movement to a joyful close.
The forth movement is a l7-minute broad sonata-allegro design in which several themes are developed and recapitulated, concluding with a brief recurring theme from the first movement, bringing the entire symphony to a majestic conclusion.
In three one-minute parts for large orchestra
Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba; timpani, 3 percussion; harp; piano; strings.
In the first part, subtitled, "Cowboys' Race Across the Plains," the theme immediately suggests a mood and spirit of the "old west." One may conjure images of covered wagons and galloping horses as the music quickly flashes its themes.
In the second part, "In an Indian Village," the strings, harp and percussion are heard, with tom toms entering toward the end. The final section, "A Grand Cattle Roundup," features a solo trumpet playing the main theme, with the full orchestra entering for very brilliant finale.
The idea for this work was posed by the educational director of a large orchestra, expressly for young people's concerts. It was designed to draw attention to the various sections of the orchestra, and by using basically the same music for each part, the listeners' focus could be on the timbres of these sections and soloists. The work was performed numerous times for the student audiences, and it was always well received.