Born in Australia, Matthew McDonald was initially interested in jazz and rock. But when his parents gave him an electric bass guitar on the condition that he also learnt to play the double bass, he quickly became passionate about it.
In 2000, he went to Berlin to study at the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker (the Berlin Philharmonic). After graduating, he became principal double bass of the DR Symfoni Orkestret (Danish National Symphony Orchestra), the Ensemble Modern, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra), the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and, since 2009, the Berliner Philharmoniker (the Berlin Philharmonic).
As a chamber musician he has played with many musicians, including Kavakos, Tetzlaff, Kuusisto, Liebeck, Dean, Altstaedt, Gerhardt, Steckel, Brendel, Fellner, Cooper, Vlatkovic, Barborak, Padmore, and with the Kuss Quartett, Trio Atos, Ensemble 360, and Philharmonisches Oktett Berlin (the Berlin Philharmonic Octet). He is also frequently invited to play with the Skride Piano Quartet. The Royal Concertgebouw and the London Symphony Orchestra have also asked him to play as a double bass soloist.
He teaches at the Hochschule fur Musik Hans Eisler in Berlin, at the Karajan-Akademie and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has also given masterclasses in Europe and Asia and teaches in Orford (Canada) and Lisbon at summer schools.