Chausson used Franck's Symphony In D Minor as a model for his Symphony in B-flat. Both works have 3 movements, and Chausson adapts Franck's cyclic style and chromaticism to his own style.
I. Lent - Allegro Vivo- The first movement begins with a slow and dramatic introduction that shows the influence of Wagner. It builds to a climax full of anguish with quiet afterthoughts, when the clouds evaporate and the main theme of the movement begins. It is one of the most stunning and rapid transformations in the symphonic literature. The theme reaches its own refined climax, and the second theme (which shows the influence of Franck's music) begins. The working out of the themes in the exposition shows Chausson's own way with sonata form as themes weave in and out in different guises. The recapitulation expands the themes into a grand ending to the movement.
II. Très Lent - The music of this movement begins in a minor key and slowly builds into a stunning major key climax at the ending.
III. Animé - The movement begins dramatically with whirling rapid notes in the strings punctuated by scraps of melody played in the brass. There is another theme that spins out of the opening, also dramatic in nature. A chorale-like melody appears first in the brass and then woodwinds. The development section brings back some of the themes heard previously. The music returns to the initial theme of the movement in recapitulation. The initial theme of the first movement now returns and helps connect the work in the way only cyclic form can do. The trumpet plays a poignant tune and the music builds to the finale. The symphony that has begun with a dramatic, tragic introduction now ends in the gentle glow of sunshine.