This work by Richard Wagner is about as far as you can get from his huge, enormous, dense opera scores. Wagner composed this tone poem for chamber orchestra as a birthday gift for his wife, Cosima, arranging for it to be played privately by an orchestra arrayed on the stairs of their home on the morning of her birthday as she awoke. It is a gentle, almost magical work, full of luminous emotion that almost defies belief when one considers the usual nature of Wagner's work. But then, Richard Wagner was an enormously complex man. As David Dubal writes, in describing this work, "That this man, capable of such emotion, was enraged at Bismarck for not burning Paris to the ground will always tantalize and disturb."
Here is the Siegfried Idyll.