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Ramón S. Sabat | University of Miami Finding Aids

Name: Ramón S. Sabat

Historical Note:

Ramón S. Sabat was born in San Fernando de Camarones in the early 1900s. At an early age he started showing his musical inclinations. He studied music with José Rivero Rodríguez and learned to play the clarinet, the saxophone, the flute, and the piano. In 1919, Ramón moved to the United States to study music. While in the United States, Ramón enlisted in the U.S. Army and worked in one of the Army’s bands.

After Ramón served in the U.S. Army, he attended New York University and graduated with a degree in engineering. Mr. Sabat worked in different music labels and started various business ventures until 1944, when he opened the first record factory in Cuba called Panart and released its first recording,  “Dry Leaf,” by Carlos Alas del Casino. Panart had a tough time getting started due to RCA Victor’s dominant position in the record market and the relatively new character of the record technology at the time in Cuba. However, Sabat’s business abilities and musical vision made Panart a successful label. By 1957, Ramón had been able to expand his label and had sold around one million records worldwide. Panart helped spread Cuban music throughout the world.

As the Cuban revolution began, Ramón’s wife, Julia, sent copies of master tapes to New York. She was able to save about eighty percent of Panart’s catalog. Ramón did not want to leave his record company, so he sent his two daughters and wife to the United States. Julia then devised a scheme to get Ramón out of Cuba and into the United States. In 1961, Castro’s regime took over Panart. Julia and Ramón then settled in Miami. Julia started a record factory in Hialeah with Ramón’s brother Galo. Though the record label was not as successful as Panart, the music produced was a source of nostalgia for the Cuban refugees and was a reminder of the good times before Cuba fell into communist hands. Ramón passed away from a heart aneurysm on March 15, 1986.

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