At the age of two Orlando Otey was placed at the piano by his mother. It was 1927 and she had always hoped to have a son who would become a concert pianist. This young pianist went on to give his first concert at the age of four at the
Teatro Iris1 in his native Mexico City.
By the age of five he had toured Mexico and by seven he had toured Europe. He also began composing at an early age, and when he was just 14 he composed his first piano concerto, already having completed a list of other compositions.
In 1940 at the age of 15 while on tour in Mexico giving programs of his own compositions that included several mazurkas, nocturnes and etudes, Otey was heralded as
The Chopin of Mexico by critics and the press. Not only was his playing of Romantic music remarkable, his own works were taken by many to be compositions of Chopin, some critics quipping they were works that Chopin forgot to
Aside from performing throughout his teen years Otey became a faculty member at the University of Mexico School of Music by age 17. He thereafter came to the U.S. and pursued piano and composition studies at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1945.
Otey studied with Gian-Carlo Menotti and Vladimir Sokoloff.
In 1949 Otey was one of 3 pianists
selected to compete in the Chopin Centennial Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland (see New
York Times clipping here).