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Born in Mexico City and put at the piano at age 2 my father, Orlando Otey, became known as the 'Chopin of Mexico' by age 15. It was mainly for his romantic style compositions, though he'd also been touring as a concert pianist from age 5. By age 17 he was the youngest professor at the University of Mexico music school, but WWII compelled him to sign up with the RAF to fly a mission over Germany, and he was shot down and captured. Escaping with the French Resistance he made his way back to Mexico and tried to re-kindle his concert pianist career. He encountered several obstacles in this pursuit and saw the US as having more opportunity.
He was accepted at Curtis in Philadelphia, PA for both piano and composition. Desiring to perform he was thereafter chosen as one of 3 US pianists to represent the US at the Chopin Centennial international piano competition in Warsaw Poland in 1949. Encountering Russian-Mexican politics in Warsaw he returned to the US with hopes to pursue radio/television, then being fully bilingual. However, his participation for 2 weeks at the piano competition in communist-controlled Warsaw resulted in McCarthy blacklisting going into 1950.
It took until the late 1950's before my father got back into music, focused primarily on education and developing innovative teaching methods. It wasn't until the late 1990's, out of an interest to pursue audio production, that I learned more about his past and was able to record him into the mid 2000's performing some of his original piano works, to which he was compared to Vladimir Horowitz in his 80's. Until my father's passing in 2011 he expressed that he was proud to be a US citizen, being able to live his life in music.
My father's love of music was undaunted, and he provided me a foundation both in understanding of it and in the freedom to pursue it in the US.