Diomedes Cato was an Italian-born composer and lute player, who lived and worked entirely in Poland. He is known mainly for his instrumental music. He mixed the style of the late Renaissance with the emerging Baroque, and also Italian idioms with Polish folk material; and in addition he was one of the first native-born Italian composers to visit Sweden.
Cato wrote both vocal and instrumental music, and both sacred and secular: however he was most famous for his works for lute. The lute works include dozens of pieces in many forms and styles, including choreae polonicae, fantasias, galliards, transcriptions of Italian madrigals, passamezzos, and preludes, all of which he probably played himself. Stylistically, they cover the full range of possibilities on the lute. The preludes are chordal for the most part; the fantasias are imitative ricercars; and there is a set of eight Polish dances, probably derived from actual folk music. Some aspects of early Baroque style are clear in Cato's music, including the use of short motifs which recur to unify longer sections, and the use of linking episodic sections between thematic statements; on the other hand, some of his lute music includes lines of vocal character in strict imitation, more in the style of the mid-to-late 16th century polyphonists.
Other instrumental music by Cato includes pieces for consorts of viols, as well as solo keyboard.
His vocal works include settings of Polish sacred songs in a collection entitled Rytmy łacińskie dziwnie sztuczne ... for four voices and lute, as well as Pieśń o świętym Stanisławie, for four voices unaccompanied. He also wrote an Italian madrigal, Tirsi morir volea, for five voices, though it only exists in an arrangement for solo voice and instrumental accompaniment: a transcription which could represent a conscious conformance to the new Baroque conception of the solo madrigal.