Jean Langlais (15 February 1907 – 8 May 1991) was a French composer of modern classical music, organist, and improviser.
Jean Langlais was born in La Fontenelle (Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany), a small village near Mont St Michel, France. Langlais became blind due to glaucoma when he was only two years old, and was sent to study at the Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris, where he began to study the organ. From there, he progressed to the Paris Conservatoire, obtaining prizes in organ, which he studied with Marcel Dupré, composition, which he studied with Paul Dukas, and improvisation, which he studied with André Marchal.
After graduating, he returned to the National Institute for the Young Blind to teach, and also taught at the Schola Cantorum from 1961 to 1976. However, it was as an organist that he made his name, following in the steps of César Franck and Charles Tournemire as Organist Titulaire at the Basilica of St. Clotilde, Paris in 1945, a post in which he remained until 1987. He was much in demand as a concert organist, and toured widely across Europe and the United States.
Outside music, Langlais was a colorful and charismatic character, for many years living with both his first wife and his mistress (later to become his second wife), and fathering a child at the age of 73.
Langlais died in Paris aged 84, and was survived by his second wife Marie-Louise Jaquet-Langlais.
To celebrate the contributions of this prominent twentieth century artist on the centenary of his birth, an English-language DVD, Life and Music of Jean Langlais, was released in 2007 by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Guild of Organists.