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Herbert Blomstedt will conduct an all-Beethoven program featuring violinist Joshua Bell at Tanglewood on Saturday, Aug. 7. Karina Canellakis conducts Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, performed by Yo-Yo Ma on Sunday, Aug. 8, at 2:30 p.m.

LENOX – Beethoven, Beethoven and more Beethoven: He’s been as pervasive as rain and humidity at Tanglewood this summer. Actually, he’s pervasive every year. He just seems more so as Tanglewood tries to lure back concertgoers after the year of Covid-induced silence.

Beethoven returns tonight, (Aug. 7), with the Violin Concerto and Seventh Symphony in a Boston Symphony Orchestra program to be conducted by Herbert Blomstedt with the starry Joshua Bell as soloist. Blomstedt, 94, is a Seventh-day Adventist and Tanglewood veteran. It would be interesting to learn how, from his religious perspective and long podium experience, he accounts for the peculiar power of Beethoven’s music. Alas, he was not available for interview for this article. But in an interview he gave two years ago to the website bachtrack, he said:

“Music keeps me young. I have a great curiosity and in that way I am still like a child. I have learnt a little bit over the years but most of all I’ve learnt that I know far too little. And being curious can mean exploring the same work 200 times. I can get excited each time I come back to a symphony like Schubert’s C Major. Life is interesting. Every performance we do, even when it’s quite successful, I never think I have reached a solution. Next time we play it, we’ll discover other things.”

And deeper experience, presumably, leads to deeper discovery of music’s hidden springs.

Scholars have filled shelves with books of technical analysis of Beethoven’s methods. But technique gets you only so far. To listen to the late piano sonatas and string quartets, for example, is to be transported deep into both the human psyche and far corners of the universe.

Spirituality is a mushy term, used by all manner of sects, gurus and would-be gurus. But it is the word that best encapsulates the power that Beethoven — above all other composers except Bach — exerts. Musicians and laymen alike recognize this as a numinous force, beyond the notes, beyond sound, beyond joy and sorrow. Increasingly deaf to human traffic as he aged, the isolated Beethoven turned increasingly to the spiritual and transcendental.

His Missa Solemnis is a supreme example. Written over a span of four years late in life, it sets the Roman Catholic liturgical text but is so monumental that it is virtually impossible to perform in a service — or in a concert hall, as a matter of fact. The work doesn’t end with an “amen.” Instead, after echoes of warfare in drum rolls and trumpet calls, the chorus rises to a mighty “Dona nobis pacem” (“Give us peace”) and stops short. It’s as if the plea is addressed to earth and heaven as it resounds, seemingly unfinished, through the universe. The effect is profoundly human yet more than human.

Scholars have also scratched their heads to get at the spiritual quality in Beethoven’s music. In 1927, for example, J.W.N. Sullivan published “Beethoven: His Spiritual Development,” a once-classic book tracing the rise of spirituality from the early works to such transcendental moments as the fugues that seem to hover, timeless in the air, in the late String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Opus 131.

In some ways, the book seems dated and even quaint. To elevate Beethoven, Sullivan has to put down Bach and Wagner. Bach, he writes, “lost himself at the end in the arid labyrinths of pure technique.” Wagner “had nothing to express at the end but exhaustion and ineffectual longing.” On the other hand, “Beethoven’s music continually developed because it was the expression of an attitude towards life that had within it the possibility of indefinite growth.”

Another way of getting at the transcendental quality is to consider Beethoven’s extensive use of the variations form in his late works. In the late piano sonatas, it not only transforms notes but “transfigures” them, according to Maynard Solomon in his Beethoven biography.

“[I]t is this elusive quality of transfiguration – with its overtones of sublimated and ecstatic states – that most listeners have sensed in Beethoven’s late variations,” Solomon writes. The music, in other words, draws on deep human emotions to evoke spiritual states.

The Ninth Symphony, the secular counterpart to the Missa Solemnis, owes its overwhelming impact to two variations movements. It opens with two movements of near-violent character. A series of variations then gives the adagio its sense of floating in a serene, other-worldly ether. In the finale, soloists and chorus take up the universally known “Ode to Joy” theme in variations that rise to the climactic embrace of all humankind in divine love.

What seizes us in the Ninth is the power, however momentary, that raises us to the dignity of the gods. The audience itself is transfigured.

The Violin Concerto and Seventh Symphony that make up tonight’s program come from Beethoven’s middle, or “heroic,” period. Listen for overtones of infinity.

Andrew L. Pincus writes about classical music for The Eagle.