Henri Mulet (1878-1967) grew up close to the Sacré-Coeur, the Paris basilica where his father was a choirmaster and his mother played the harmonium. At the Paris Conservatoire he studied both violoncello and organ. Widor was his organ professor, while Guilmant gave him lessons in improvisation.
In 1920, Mulet published his Esquisses byzantines, ten sketches ‘in memory of the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur of Montmartre, 1914-1919’. Dominating northern Paris, this basilica on the hill of Montmartre was built in the Romanesque-Byzantine style.
The final piece of this volume is a Carillon pour Orgue bearing the Latin title ‘Tu es Petra et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus te’ (‘You are Peter, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’). Because of its highly virtuoso character, the piece is commonly referred to as a toccata in the organ world.