Morlot was born in Lyon on 11 December 1973. As a youth, he trained as a violinist. He later attended the Royal Academy of Music, and began his studies in conducting in London in 1994, where his mentors included Sir Colin Davis, George Hurst and Colin Metters. At the Royal College of Music, he was a Norman Del Mar conducting fellow. In the US, he attended the Pierre Monteux school for conductors. He held the Seiji Ozawa Fellowship in conducting at the Tanglewood festival in 2001.
From 2002 to 2004, Morlot served as conductor-in-residence with the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL) under David Robertson, where his responsibilities included conducting the ONL's two youth orchestras. From 2004 to 2007, he was an assistant conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he conducted for the first time in subscription concerts in April 2005.
Morlot's work in contemporary music has included conducting the US premieres of Gondwana by Tristan Murail, in January 2009, and Helios Choros II (Sun God Dancers) by Augusta Read Thomas in October 2009, and the world premiere of Instances, the last orchestral work by Elliott Carter.
Morlot first guest-conducted the Seattle Symphony in October 2009. His second guest appearance with the Seattle Symphony was in April 2010, as a substitute conductor following the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruptions, when he led a different program prepared with diminished rehearsal time. In June 2010, the Seattle Symphony announced the appointment of Morlot as its 15th music director, effective with the 2011–2012 season, with an initial contract of six years. He held the title of music director designate during the 2010–2011 season. In July 2015, the orchestra announced the extension of Morlot's contract through the 2018–2019 season. On 21 April 2017, the orchestra announced the conclusion of Morlot's music directorship at the end of the 2018–2019 season. Morlot now has the title of conductor emeritus with the Seattle Symphony.
Morlot made his first guest-conducting appearance at La Monnaie in 2011. In June 2011, La Monnaie announced Morlot's appointment as its next music director, as of the 2012–2013 season, with an initial contract of 5 years. The Seattle and Brussels positions represented Morlot's first music directorships of an orchestra and an opera company, respectively. In December 2014, citing artistic differences, Morlot resigned from the directorship at La Monnaie, effective 31 December 2014. He commented:
- "I feel that the orchestra and I have not managed to reach a consensus on an artistic vision, and therefore, for the sake of their development as well as my own, I have made this decision to stand down."
Morlot served as the conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of China during its inaugural concert tour in 2017, which included a performance with Yuja Wang at Carnegie Hall. He returned as conductor for its 2019 season with pianist Garrick Ohlsson. In January 2020, he was announced as the organization's Artistic Director.
Morlot and his wife Ghizlane have two daughters, Nora and Iman. In March 2012, Morlot was named Affiliate Professor of Music at the University of Washington (UW). With the 2013–2014 academic year, Morlot became the chair of orchestral conducting studies at UW. In 2014, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music "in recognition of his significant contribution to music."
- David Wright (6 January 2009). "New York Philharmonic: Green Room - Ludovic Morlot". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- Tom Keogh (16 October 2009). "Q&A: Seattle Symphony guest conductor Ludovic Morlot discusses Prokofiev, Haydn — and more". Seattle Times. Retrieved 25 December 2009.
- David Weininger (1 April 2005). "Morlot's musical journey continues". Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- Jeremy Eichler (13 October 2006). "BSO assistant leads first-rate show". Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- Steve Smith (10 January 2009). "Contemporary Storm Amid Classical Waves". New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- Jeremy Eichler (17 October 2009). "Morlot, BSO premiere Thomas work". Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- "Seattle Symphony Announces Commission by Renowned American Composer Elliott Carter". Seattle Symphony Orchestra. 19 April 2012. Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
- Melinda Bargreen (23 October 2009). "Seattle Symphony with guest conductor Ludovic Morlot". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2 July 2010.
- Bernard Jacobson (23 April 2010). "After the volcano, the show goes on at Seattle Symphony". Seattle Times. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
- Melinda Bargreen (29 June 2010). "Rising French star Ludovic Morlot chosen to replace Schwarz at Seattle Symphony". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- "Seattle Symphony Orchestra Names Ludovic Morlot Music Director Designate" (Press release). Seattle Symphony. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Music Director Ludovic Morlot's Contract Extended Through 2019" (Press release). Seattle Symphony Orchestra. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Brendan Kiley (21 April 2017). "Seattle Symphony conductor Ludovic Morlot announces departure". Seattle Times. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
- Melinda Bargreen (30 June 2011). "New Seattle Symphony music director to moonlight in Belgium". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- Serge Martin (12 December 2014). "Ludovic Morlot quitte la Monnaie". Le Soir (in French). Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Cooper, Michael (12 December 2014). "Morlot to Step Down as Conductor of Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie". New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
- Tommasini, Anthony (23 July 2017). "Review: U.S. Youth Orchestra Inspires a Chinese Counterpart". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- "Ludovic Morlot named Affiliate Professor of Music" (Press release). University of Washington. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "Ludovic Morlot named Chair of Orchestral Conducting Studies at UW" (Press release). University of Washington. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- "About Ludovic Morlot, Conductor and The Harriet Overton Stimson Music Director". Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 26 September 2015.