Martin Butler was born in 1960 and studied at the University of Manchester, the Royal Northern College of Music, and Princeton University, USA. From September 1998 to July 1999 Butler was Composer-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in the United States. He is currently Professor of Music at the University of Sussex.
Butler’s works are widely performed and broadcast both in the UK and abroad. He has received commissions from, amongst others, the BBC (O Rio was first performed at the 1991 Proms), the London Sinfonietta (Concertino and Jazz Machines, of which the latter was played at the 1995 Venice Biennale), the Schubert Ensemble (American Rounds and Sequena Notturna) and the Brighton, Cheltenham, Canterbury, Norfolk & Norwich, and Presteigne festivals. In June 1994 Mecklenburgh Opera premiered the operatic adventure story Craig's Progress, which was adapted for radio broadcast by BBC Radio 3. His chamber opera A Better Place was premiered by ENO at the Coliseum in London in July 2001, conducted by Paul Daniel, and Two Rivers for choir and orchestra was premiered by the Oxford Bach Choir and The Britten Sinfonia in December 2001. Sentinels for string quartet and viola was premiered by the Brodsky Quartet and John Metcalfe at the 2006 Brighton Festival, and William Howard gave the premiere of Funérailles, a substantial new work for piano, at the 2006 Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
From 2006-8 Butler was the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra's first ever 'Composer in Focus'. The orchestra performed several large scale works during this period and his tenure culminated in two major performances of a new commission for the orchestra, From the Fairground of Dreams in January and March 2008 at Brighton Dome Concert Hall, conducted by Barry Wordsworth. In October 2008 Butler’s work for solo horn, Hunding, was the first music to be heard at the opening weekend of the new Kings Place concert hall in London. During 2009, his Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Strings was premiered by Amy Dickson at the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts.
Butler’s substantial nonet, Rondes d’automnes was premiered at the Cheltenham Music Festival by the New London Chamber Ensemble in 2011 and was shortlisted for a RPS Award. The ensemble subsequently premiered two Mozart arrangements by Butler at the Wigmore Hall the same year.
Butler is pianist with the innovative improvising group, notes inegales and co-director of Club Inegales in London.