Onuté Narbutaité was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, on June 12, 1956. She studied music at the Lithuanian State Conservatory, where her most important teacher was Julius Juzeliunas. Narbutaité graduated in 1979, and from that year until 1982, she taught music theory at the State Conservatory in Klaipeda. Thereafter, based in Vilnius, she freelanced as a composer.
Narbutaité had some early success, typically in the chamber genre. Her 1991 chamber piece Mozartsommer, for flute, violin, viola and piano, was a light work that gained a measure of popularity. She would go on to turn out successful chamber works inspired by other well-known composers, like Winterserenade: Paraphrase of Schubert's Gute Nacht (1997), for flute, violin, and viola; and Autumn Ritornello - Homage a Fryderyk Chopin (1999), for piano quartet.
From about the mid-'90s Narbutaité began to focus her compositional interests on larger-scale works, like the 1996 Sinfonia col triangolo for string orchestra.
In 1997 Narbutaité was given the highest artistic honor when she was named recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize for the aforementioned Centones meae urbi. Further awards were bestowed upon her: in 2004 the Lithuanian Composers Union presented her with the prize for the year's best symphonic work for the 2002-2003 choral symphony Tres Dei Matris Symphoniae (Three Symphonies of the Mother of God). She received the same distinction in 2005 for La Barca. Among the more popular and acclaimed recordings of Narbutaité's works is the 2011 Naxos CD of Tres Dei Matris Symphoniae, played by the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra under Robertas Servenikas.