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Hans Werner Henze’s music is shaped by his trauma from the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the issue of German identity in the years following World War II. He became an outspoken anti-fascist. His compositional style is a freely tonal 12-note idiom, and his output includes theater pieces, ballet music, operas, symphonies, string quartets, chamber music, and guitar music. The guitarist Julian Bream encouraged Henze to write a significant work for solo guitar. Henze composed the monumental Royal Winter Music Sonata I, a collection of Shakespearean character portraits. He later composed Royal Winter Music Sonata II, completing the cycle. This treatise provides a theory of Royal Winter Music Sonata I that addresses connections between movements and characters with the goal of delineating an overall narrative arc. The analysis takes the form of an overview of the Shakespearean play and important characters and character relations followed by a detailed examination of the respective movement. The methodology reconciles the work’s resistance to confinement of the musical language as either tonal or atonal, its premise of portraying Shakespearean characters, and the notion that it is an interconnected cycle. This method freely employs literary, narratological, psychoanalytic, psychologic, and musical historical lenses in what can be called a semiotic analysis. It yields an interpretation of Royal Winter Music Sonata I where a consistent structure encounters resistance. Atonality, rhythmic irregularity, and descending pitch and phrase contours are the structure’s initial signatures. It is ruptured to the point that a new universality is posited.