By Pablo Gil
Creator: Ramón S. Sabat
Extent: 20.0 Boxes
This collection documents the activities of Panart, a pioneering Cuban record label created by Ramón S. Sabat (1902-1986) in the 1940s.
This collection documents the activities of Panart, a pioneering Cuban record label created by Ramón S. Sabat (1902-1986) in the 1940s. Panart sold millions of records worldwide and, according to Mr. Sabat, it was generally responsible for the extensive circulation of Cuban music around the world. The bulk of this collection consists in sound recordings in different formats: various phonograph record types, audiocassettes, reel to reel tapes and eight-track stereo tapes. After 1959 the Cuban government took over Panart's holdings in Cuba, Mr. Sabat and his family settled in the U.S. during the early 1960s, and they created a company in Miami that continued to distribute Panart recordings until the 1980s.
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 into the U.S. Army and worked in one of the Army’s bands.
After Ramón served 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 it had sold around a 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 catalogue. 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 became 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.
Acquisition Method: Gifts of Julia R. Sabat, 1990, 2001, and 2003.