One of the highlights of the 1912 festival must almost certainly have been the first performance in the UK of the 4th Symphony by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The work had been commissioned for the festival and was conducted by Sibelius himself. It shared the programme with the first performance of Elgar's The Music Makers which Elgar conducted.
Sibelius's 4th Symphony had not been well received when it was first performed the previous year in Helsinki and in 1913 it was hissed when performed in Gothenburg. The Birmingham audience did, however, give it a sympathetic hearing and on the strength of the performance a new choral work (Luonnotar) was commissioned for the 1913 Gloucester festival.
The Finnish soprano, Aino Ackte, to whom Luonnotar was dedicated, also sang in the Verdi Requiem and the closing scene from Salome at the 1912 Birmingham Festival.