Yehudi Menuhin's Son, Krov, Isn't Fiddling His Life Away: He's Filming Underwater Adventures
04/15/1985 at 01:00 AM EST
Like his father, Krov Menuhin travels the globe. But while the famed violinist Yehudi Menuhin shines in the concert hall, Krov, 44, an outstanding underwater photographer, finds music to his ears in the high, echoing cry of a whale or the crash of waves along the hull of a schooner.
Since 1972 Krov has filmed nine one-hour specials, financed mostly with his own money. For his latest film the former race-car driver and bush pilot, his wife, baby son and a crew of six set off for a three-month, 2,500-mile adventure through the South Seas. Their adventures—which included meeting with the Tanna Island tribe that worships Prince Philip—resulted in a four-part documentary, South Seas Voyage. Made at a cost of $180,000, the film appeared on British television last year and is now being marketed in the U.S.
Much as Krov relishes his own travels today, he grew up resenting his famous father's globe-trotting. "I didn't understand why he didn't spend more time with us," Krov explains. Upset, too, by his parents' divorce when he was 7, he turned against music, recalling now that "I disliked going to concerts. Maybe subconsciously it had something to do with the divorce." Happily for both father and son, adulthood brought increased understanding, and the two Menuhins are now "very close—I see as much of him as possible," says Krov.
"I could never compare myself with my father," he adds. "He is a genius. I don't have his intelligence and his tremendous ability to concentrate on what he's doing. But there is in me the same Menuhin ambition to achieve at the highest possible level."
Yehudi today regrets he did not have the time to be a conventional parent. "My life, the habit of traveling, made it impossible," he explains. "The children evolved on their own but with a lot of parental concern." (Krov's sister, Zamira, 45, is a concert pianist, as is half brother Jeremy, 32. Gerard, 35, another half brother from Yehudi's second marriage, lives in California and has just published his first novel.)
"Now we talk the same language," Yehudi continues. "We are more or less the same age. I am a young 68, they are in their 30s, 40s. It is fine." In fact, for Krov's 1978 film, The Reef at Ras Muhammad, shot off the Sinai, his father performed the background music.
"I believe in nepotism, but I wouldn't have asked him to do it," says Krov. "But when he saw it, he asked to do the music, which he then had specially composed by Edwin Roxburgh." Father and son would like to collaborate on another film, linking movements of animals underwater with the swirls and eddies of the music.
The elder Menuhin obviously envies his son's varied exploits. "I never had the chance to be like Krov," he says. "I was brought up by an overcautious father who always insisted on having his socks on before he got out of bed in the morning." Of his career as a violin virtuoso he admits, "I started very early and whatever talent I had was readily recognized. I never had to fight my way or worry about the competition—that would be very frustrating."
Born in Melbourne in 1940 after his father's career had taken off, young Krov (his name means "blood" in Russian) and Zamira lived in the U.S. with their Australian-born mother, Nola, while their father pursued a hectic concert schedule. After his parents' divorce Krov's mother remarried twice, and the children were shuttled through countries, houses and boarding schools. At 14, while living in the Bahamas, Krov discovered deep-sea diving, which became a lifelong passion. Four years later, without his mother's knowledge, he raced a Porsche at Daytona.
At the University of Denver he majored in journalism, spending vacations as a cub reporter on the Denver Post. But at graduation in 1962 Krov opted for "something more exciting": He joined the U.S. Army's special forces, teaching guerrilla-warfare tactics. "I never had such a great time in my life," he says. After the Army he used the Gl Bill to get his air-pilot's license. While island-hopping as a police pilot in the Bahamas, he met his future wife, Ann Christoffers, now 38, the daughter of a wealthy Darien, Conn. chemical engineer. They married in 1967, spending their first years of wedded bliss aboard a 48-foot sloop, The Merry Hell.
When in 1972 a Cuban friend told the couple about rarely photographed white whales off Patagonia, Krov caught fire. "We sold off everything—the art, the furniture and all to raise the $25,000 needed for the nine months of filming," he says. "For the first time I asked my father for money: $5,000, which he gave me." (The film was shown on American TV as A Prospect of Whales.)
Moviemaking provides "enough to live comfortably," with proceeds from one film reinvested in the next. When not off filming, Krov and Ann live in Provence in the South of France, where they have refurbished a farmhouse dubbed Mas de la baleine (House of the Whale). Currently they are thinking of their next trip, possibly to Sri Lanka to photograph more whales. Wherever they decide to go, Aaron, now 2, will travel with them. Krov wants to make sure he sees more of his son than his father did. Still, some of the old ambivalence remains. "Wherever I have gone, America, Africa, Israel, people have nothing but good to say about my father," says Krov. "Sometimes I wonder what drives me on. I think it's trying to live up to his example."