Cyril Smith recounts Rachmaninoff’s stage presence:
Those who were fortunate enough to hear him play will almost certainly remember this very tall, melancholy figure, with his graying hair in a crew cut and his deeply-lined face set in a somber expression, walking unwillingly to the piano as though he hated the very sight of it. Slowly he would take his seat, gazing round at the audience with his gimlet eyes … Such was the power of his personality that I have seen members of the audience cower down in their seats as his glance passed over them … As he took in the stalls, the circle and the galleries, he would play a chord, pianissimo, then repeat it several times softer until it dwindled to less than a whisper. By then the audience would have quietened completely and Rachmaninoff was ready to begin his recital.
Smith, Cyril (1958) Duet for Three Hands. London: Angus and Robertson, p. 116.