Australian violinist Emily Sun is the new custodian of ‘The Adelaide’ Guadagnini violin. Crafted in Milan between 1753–1757, it is now valued at over US$1 million.

Giovanni Battista Guadagnini is widely regarded as the last of the great master luthiers of the ‘golden age’ of string instruments, ranking just behind Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe ‘del Gesù’ Guarneri. 

‘The Adelaide’ was purchased by the people of South Australia in 1955, when Carmel Hakendorf was invited to make her London debut. Since Hakendorf’s retirement from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the violin – which is held in trust by the UKARIA Cultural Centre – has been lent to other leading violinists with a connection to South Australia, among them William Hennessy, Jane Peters, Sophie Rowell and Natsuko Yoshimoto.

“This Guadagnini has a golden sound,” says Sun. “I feel very privileged to play on this beautiful instrument, during this fleeting period of its already long life and history . . . It is my responsibility to understand ‘The Adelaide’ and draw out its authentic sound, rather than impose on it my perception of what it should sound like. It takes time, patience and love to truly understand its depth and possibilities.”

Now largely based in London, Sun is a...