Ma Shuilong was born on July 17, 1939 in Keelung, Taiwan. In 1964 he graduated from Taiwan College of the Arts, where he studied musical composition with Professor Xiao Erhua. Ma Shuilong studied music theorywith professor Hsu Tsang-Houei and Professor Lu Yen. In 1972 he received a full scholarship to study at the Regensburg Music Academy in West Germany where he studied with Dr. O. Sigmund. He graduated with honors from the Music Academy in 1975. He was twice the recipient of the Golden Tripod Award, and also received the Sun Yat-Sen Music Creation Award and the Wu San-Lien Award. His nearly one-hundred compositions include orchestral music, chamber music, compositions for piano and voice and choral compositions. His works have been performed in more than twenty countries including Taiwan, the United States, South Africa and various locations in Europe and South-East Asia. His Chinese Transverse Flute Concerto was performed in 1983 by the American National Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich at Taipei's Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall while being simulcast on the public television network, PBS, in America. In 1986 he won a Fulbright Award to do research at New York's Lincoln Center and perform his work throughout the United States, where he received positive notices in the New York Times and other prominent publications. New York Times reporter Bernard Holland once wrote, “Mr. Ma's collection of pieces balanced the largely conventional use of Western instruments with the pure intervallic skips and pentatonic melody from his own culture, and it did so without descending into the usual cloying chinoiseries, which is actually very difficult to achieve.” Ma Shui-long is the first Taiwanese composer to have his work presented at Lincoln Center. In 1991, he was included in the publications Who's Who and the 500 Famous People. In 1992 he was included in Contemporary Composers. He received a Council for Cultural Affairs Grant in 1994 to study and give lectures in the United States at Yale, Harvard and Northern Illinois University. In 1999, he won the third National Award for Arts in Music. In 2000, he was included in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and in the same year received the Presidential Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon. In 2007, he was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by National Tainan University and National Taipei University of the Arts as well as the Executive Yuan Cultural Award.
Ma Shui-long has taught in the music departments at Tainan University of Technology (previously known as Tainan Women's College of Arts and Technology) and Soochow University. He was also the chairman of the music department at National Taiwan University of Arts and the music department chairman, administrative director and principal at the National Taiwan University of the Arts. He served as a member of the Academic Review Committee and Technology Advisory Office at the Ministry of Education, and also served as a member on the Council of Cultural Affairs and National Endowment for Culture and Arts, Executive Yuan. He was a member of the Presidential Palace Concert Programming Committee; a member and vice chairman of the Asian Composers' League; the director of the Asian Composers' League of Taiwan and the Taiwan Composer's Association; the chairman of the Music Copyright Association of Taiwan; a National Policy Adviser to the President; a board member of the Executive Juridical Body of the National CKS Cultural Center and a board member of National Culture and Arts Foundation. He is currently a guest professor of the Institute of Music at National Chiao Tung University, a professor in the Department of Music at TNUA, the Honorary President of the Asian Composers’ League of Taiwan; and the Executive Officer of Chew’s Culture Foundation, in charge of the Euterpe: Spring & Autumn Concert Series.