The work was written in 1956 for baritone and symphony orchestra. A note in the PWM score edition informs that it was a concert version of selected fragments of stage music for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The concert piece was first performed on 30th October 1957 with the singer Andrzej Hiolski and the Polish Radio Grand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jan Krenz. In 1963, Baird’s Sonnets were used by Stefan Sutkowski as ballet music for the spectacle Love Sonnets played by Warsaw Chamber Opera. In 1969, the 2nd version - for baritone, harpsichord and strings - was created; its first performance by Jerzy Artysz and “Pro Musica” conducted by Jerzy Frieman took place in Warsaw in 1971. The composer arranged four selected Shakespeare sonnets - nos. XXIII, XCI, LVI i XCVII - in an order of his own, to suggest a certain dramatic progress. The consciously archaic character of the music is very distinct - Baird makes his own, personal 20th-century comment on traditional sound structures. He attains a very subtle mood, and the eroticism in his music is delicate and refined. Four Sonnets are representative of Tadeusz Baird’s vocal-lyrical art, which was the cornerstone of all his work.
The composer said about the Four Sonnets and other stage works: “These occasional pieces have enjoyed a more lasting life than many others, which I attached more importance to. My consolation is that I am not the first composer or artist to have experienced such treatment. I could mention here a number of venerable names - so in this adventure, I have the best possible company. These stage works are something more for me, though... Perhaps a moment of order, piece and purity of genre, much needed as a short-time relief and to recover my inner balance? Or a desire to indulge myself, to hide behind a theatrical costume? They were also, undoubtedly, an expression of my respect and love for the art of past ages, a proof of my invariably lively interest in literature, in the theatre - it was in them, perhaps, that this passion bore its fruit?"