was born in Zurich, on April 12th, 1955, and grew up in Schönenwerd (canton Solothurn). He studied musicology and ethnomusicology at Zurich University under the tutelage of Kurt von Fischer und Wolfgang Laade, music theory under the tutelage of Peter Benary, and composition under the tutelage of Hans Wüthrich and Hans Ulrich Lehmann. He attended the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt. He has taken an active part in the Werkstatt für improvisierte Musik (WIM, Workshop for Improvised Music) Zurich since 1980. In 1982 and 1984, Alfred Zimmerlin was awarded grants by the canton of Aargau, including a residency in Paris, in 1986 he received the music prize of the C. F. Meyer foundation, and in 1988 he was awarded a grant for composition by the city of Zurich. In 1999 he was again awarded a grant by the canton of Aargau and in 2001 he was invited by Pro Helvetia (Swiss Culture Foundation) on the Cairo Residency Programme. In 2005, he received the prize of the UBS Culture Foundation, and in 2014 the Cultural Award of the canton of Zurich and the Art Award of Zollikon. Residency 2014 at Haus am See in Kraemerstein/Switzerland. Professor for free improvisation at the FHNW University of Music in Basle.
Alfred Zimmerlin’s ample oeuvre comprises pieces for piano, chamber music (with and without live-electronics), vocal music, orchestral music, music for theatre, and works for radio and film. The most important are: «On the Move – In a Roundabout Way» for electric bass and 14 strings, “Ohne Titel (Pragma I)” (orchestra), “Gezeiten der Zeit” (for string orchestra), “Cueillis par la mémoire des voûtes” (saxophone quartet and string orchestra), the chamber operas “Euridice singt“, “Ana Andromeda” and “Mehr als elf”, four string quartets, the chamber-music-cycle “Nachtstundenstücke”, “Neidhardlieder”, the Emily-Dickinson-Songcycle “Seasons, Moon, and Memory”, “In Bewegung (Nature Morte au Rideau)” (for piano, string orchestra and soundtrack), “Weisse Bewegung“ (for violoncello , piano, and percussion), Quintet for clarinet and string quartet, or “Zerstreut in Arbeit mit Wörtern“ (for soprano, piano, and soundtrack).
As an improvising musician and cellist, Alfred Zimmerlin has taken part in various formations in Europe and the US. Since 1983 he has been active member of KARL ein KARL, improvising and composing in cooperation with Peter K Frey and Michel Seigner, the distinctive feature of this trio being the fact that all compositional decisions are being made and accounted for collectively. Alfred Zimmerlin’s work as improvising musician as well as the works of KARL ein KARL and his compositions are available on numerous recordings.