Martin Rutherford was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1940. He studied music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where his mentor was composition Professor Ian Parrott. He began his teaching career as Assistant Director of Music at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Between 1967 and 1981 he was Director of Music at George Heriot's School, Edinburgh, and since 1982 has held a similar position at Melbourne Grammar School in Australia.
All of his compositions have been commissioned, written for a competition, at the request of a musical group, or with a student choir or ensemble in mind. His work Three Short Pieces for Concert Band
was awarded first place in the 1985 Australian Composers Competition organized by the Australian National Band and Orchestra Association. The Melbourne Grammar School Orchestra presented a complete program of his works on the occasion of his 60th birthday.