Loriod was born in Houilles, Yvelines, France. She studied at the Paris Conservatoire and became one of Olivier Messiaen's most avid pupils. She also studied with Isidor Philipp, Lazare Lévy then Marcel Ciampi. At the age of 25, she was appointed professor at the Paris Conservatoire. She went on to become a nationally acclaimed recording artist and concert pianist and premiered most of Messiaen's works for the piano, starting in the 1940s. Messiaen said that he was able to indulge in "the greatest eccentricities", when writing for piano, knowing that they would be mastered by Loriod. Both she and her sister Jeanne often performed as the soloists in his Turangalîla-Symphonie. Loriod also orchestrated part of Messiaen's final orchestral work, Concert à quatre.
In 1961, Loriod married Olivier Messiaen following the death of his long institutionalized first wife, Claire Delbos. She is generally considered to be the most important interpreter of Messiaen's piano works. In her later years, she and Messiaen acted as mentors to the pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who has since become a great champion of the works of Messiaen.
- Pièce sur la souffrance, for orchestra
- Mélopées africaines, for Ondes Martenot, piano and flute (1945)
- Grains de cendre, for soprano and chamber orchestra (1946)
- Messiaen, Olivier. Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d’ornithologie (1949–1992) ("Treatise on rhythm, colour and ornithology"), completed by Yvonne Loriod. 7 parts bound in 8 volumes. Paris: Leduc, 1994–2002.
- Messiaen, Olivier. Analyses of the Piano Works of Maurice Ravel, edited by Yvonne Loriod, translated by Paul Griffiths. [Paris]: Durand, 2005.
- Olivier Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus
- Label: Erato, 4509-91705-2
- 3 August 1993
- Olivier Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphonie
- Label: Deutsche Grammophon, 31781
- 12 May 1992
- Griffiths, Paul. "Loriod, Yvonne". Grove Music Online[permanent dead link] (subscription access)
- Cynthia Millar (6 September 2001). "Obituary: Jeanne Loriod". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- "Loriod". olivier.messiaen.org. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
- Peter Hill (4 November 2005). "Sacred gift". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- Andrew Clements (24 March 2000). "Mystery plays". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-27.
- Obituary: Le Figaro