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 listeners. 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 write.
Aside from performing throughout his teen years Otey became a faculty member at the University of Mexico School of Music by age 17. In 1945 he came to the U.S. and pursued piano and composition studies at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. 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.
Otey dedicated many years to teaching and organized a systematic method known as the 'Otey Music Theory System' that has benefited numerous students.