Rivé-King was born in suburban Cincinnati Oct. 27, 1855. Her
mother, Caroline Staub Rivé, was a singer, teacher and composer who had
studied with Manuel Garcia before emigrating from France. Her father, Léon
Rivé, was an artist and teacher of painting and languages. After losing
their three small children to cholera, the Rivés moved north from New
Orleans, staying briefly in Baton Rouge and Louisville before settling in Cincinnati.
Both parents acquired teaching positions at local colleges. Among Caroline Rivé's
students was Clara Baur, founder of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Julie's first piano teacher was her mother, who allowed her to appear in recitals as early as the age of eight. Her rapid progress led her first to the studio of Henry Andrès at the Cincinnati Conservatory, and in 1870 to New York, where her teachers included European-trained Sebastian Bach Mills, William Mason, Francis Korbay, and Dionys Pruckner. Any American pianist hoping for a successful career at home was expected to study and debut in Europe. Julie was privileged to study for a time with Franz Liszt, and thereafter was known as a Liszt pupil to the near complete exclusion of her other teachers. Liszt's compositions, particularly the Hungarian rhapsodies, later found their way into her American concert programs. She also worked with Carl Reinecke, who conducted her debut concert in Leipzig, Oct. 21, 1873. Her European concert tour was cut short when the tragic death of her father in a railroad accident forced her to return home.
Her Cincinnati debut took place April 30, 1874 at Pike's Opera House; her official American debut followed one year later with the New York Philharmonic. From there she launched a well- received concert tour of the East and Midwest. She received praise not only for the quality of her interpretations and technical skill, but also for her long and varied programs, which included Bach and Beethoven alongside Chopin, Liszt and Moszkowski, and her ability to play everything from memory. By 1893 she had played over four thousand recitals.
In 1876 Julie married her manager, Frank King, and soon thereafter began publishing her own compositions, editions and arrangements. Hers were the only works by a woman composer to be issued by her principal publisher, Kunkel, of St. Louis. In 1880 she formed her own concert company. She began her association with conductor Theodore Thomas as early as 1877 and in 1883 accompanied Thomas and his orchestra on their longest tour (some 40 concerts in 3 months). In the 1890s she was a frequent soloist with the Chicago Symphony. Despite the rigors of her concert life, she also found time for teaching, which she began as early as 1878. With the death of her husband in 1900, she moved to Chicago, where she joined the faculty of the Bush Conservatory. She continued teaching and playing concerts until only months before her death July 24, 1937. She is buried beside her husband in Spring Grove Cemetery.