A theme and six ornamental variations make up the first expositional part. The ornamental texture of these variations sometimes reveals a similarity with many rhythmic sections in instrumental mugams for which (as well as for preludes, toccatas and other polyphonic forms) frequent sequential repetitions of short melodious figures and elements of latent polyphony with reliance upon an ostinato bass are typical.
The second and third parts are the three variations Interlude, Aria, and Chorale `Bayaty--Shiraz', and contrast sharply with the first part.
Variation IX is a chorale based on three melody lines: the main theme sounds expressively against the background of the slow consistent movement of the chorale's bass voice. In the middle voice is a folk lore quotation (the only one in the composition)---the tune of the genuinely Azerbaijani mugam `Bayaty--Shiraz' emerges.
The Fourth Part is a large fugal form, evocatively subtitled `J.S. Bach'. The symphony's main them is developed by mirror reflection, expansion, and repetitions. In the process the theme of Bach's C Sharp Minor Fugue (the so called `cross' theme) from Volume I of The Well Tempered Clavier appears at the crest of another culminating wave in the bass. This theme develops into B-A-C-H. When the music reaches its greatest tension it is suddenly interrupted by the quiet, transparent appearance of the first few chords of the famous B Flat Minor Prelude from the same volume of The Well Tempered Clavier. The culminating character of this particular moment is accentuated by the sharp change in the main tonality, the emergence of D Minor, which is more optimistic than C Minor.
The Fifth Part begins like a requiem. The requiem melody singled out from the main theme is filled either with tragic heroism or with aspects of emotion. Its intonations are close to the `cross' theme of Bach's fugue which appeared earlier. Variants of the Bach theme heard first in the bass then give way to the symphony's main theme, which is expanded in the same bass. The character of the style of the finale becomes more and more distinctive. This is a magnificent tragic passacaglia. Images of Bach's famous C Minor Passacaglia for organ come to mind. The same measured steps of the theme in the pedal voice, and the dense depressing texture of the upper registers of the organ. The symphony ends with the apotheosis of the initial theme. Its triumphant character is the composer's expression of the immortality of Bach's music.