Edward McGuire was born in Glasgow in 1948. As a junior student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music Edward McGuire studied flute with David Nicholson.
After studying composition with James Iliff at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1966 to 1970, he became a pupil of the Swedish composer Ingvar Lidholm in Stockholm.
While at the RAM he won the Hecht Prize (1968) and the National Young Composers Competition (held in Liverpool University in 1969). His violin piece, "Rant", won the competition organized by the Society for the Promotion of New Music to find the modern test piece for the 1978 Carl Flesch International Violin Competition.
His works have been broadcast regularly and he has received commissions from the Glasgow University McEwen Bequest, the New Music Group of Scotland, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the St. Magnus Festival among others. His debut at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts was in August 1982 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's performance of "Source", conducted by Sir Charles Groves.
In recent years he has produced several large scale works to critical acclaim, including "Peter Pan" (Scottish Ballet, 1989), "A Glasgow Symphony" (National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, 1990), "The Loving of Etain" (Paragon Opera, 1990) and a "Trombone Concerto" (Glasgow Festival Strings & John Kenny, 1991.) He was a featured composer at the 1993 Park Lane Group series at the Purcell Room in London, and in January 1995 he was one of several Scots who were interviewed and had music performed on BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week.
He was the featured composer at the 1996 Bath International Guitar Festival and composed the set piece for its competition. McGuire also plays flute with the Scottish traditional group, The Whistlebinkies, who have made several discs and in 1992 became the first Scottish ensemble to give a concert tour of China.