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Diomedes Cato (* ca. 1570)

Diomedes Cato, a Venetian by birth, spent most of his life in Poland and was so closely connected with Poland's musical culture that he is the most representative figure of Polish lute music in the Rudenius tablature of 1600 (fol. 6r) and two hundred years later E. L. Gerber remarks "Diomedes, ein Lautenist und Komponist, aus Sarmatien oder, wie die anderen wollen, aus Venedig gebuertig".

What little information we possess about Diomedes' life has come mainly from indirect and not always reliable sources. He was born certainly no later than 1570, since on March 20, 1588, he was appointed lutenist to the Court of Polish King Sigismundus III Vasa. We know he stayed at this court until August 1593, as well as at the turn of 1602; these dates have been established by Piotr Po?niak on the basis of the accounts of the royal court preserved in the Main Archives of Ancient Documents in Warsaw. These Archives, hovewer, are incomplete so that there are reasons for supposing that Diomedes held the post of court lutenist for a longer period.

In 1593 - 94 Diomedes probably accompanied the king on his journey to Sweden where, according to T. Norlind, round about 1600 he was one of the best known foreign composers. It is also worth mentioning that the only piece inscribed with his name preserved in Sweden was written down just in 1595. In the years 1600 - 1602 he probably stayed in Poland again, perhaps in the service to the Treasurer of the Lands of Prussia, Stanis?aw Kostka (it is certain that Diomedes stayed at his court for some time as well), since the latter, before his death in 1602, bequeathed to Diomedes a sum of 10,000 florins. No records have survived about Diomedes after 1603.

Quoted after Piotr Poźniak, PWM, 1968

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