The symphony has four movements, although the fourth is incomplete and fragmentary. Of this finale, it seems that much material in full score may have been lost very soon after the composer's death, and therefore some of the lost sections in full score survived only in two-to-four-stave sketch format. The placement of the Scherzo second, and the key, D minor, are only two elements this work has in common with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
The symphony is so often performed without any sort of finale that some authors describe "the form of this symphony [as] ... a massive arch, two slow movements straddling an energetic Scherzo."
The score calls for three each of flutes, oboes, clarinets in B-flat and A (Adagio only), 2 bassoons and contrabassoon, with eight horns (5.–8. Hrn. doubling on Wagner tubas), three trumpets in F, three trombones, contrabass tuba, timpani and strings.
More pieces by Bruckner
- Symphony No. 4, Romantic
- Symphony No. 8