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Alfred Knüsel was born in Lucerne. In addition to his instrumental studies with cello under Emmy Munzinger in Lucerne, Raffaele Altwegg in Zurich and Paul Tortelier in Paris, he also studied composition early on with Peter Benary in Lucerne, Max Kuhn in Zurich and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He had intensive contact with M. Kagel and G. Kurtag.
Since 1973 he has taught at the music department of the ‘Musikschule Basel’ (Basel School of Music). In 1980 he was recognised with an award from the City of Lucerne, and in 1995 he received a scholarship from the Basel Land Culture Festival.