Before rap, punk, metal, rock, jazz, country, dixie, etc., just how popular was classical music? That is, was it widely popular with the masses, or was its appeal generally limited to the upper classes? My impression is that in 18th and 19th century America, for instance, classical music’s popularity was principally limited to the larger cities that had the orchestras, chamber groups, or small groups to perform it live (given the lack of recording devices). In the towns and outlying areas, on the other hand, an assortment of folk, bluegrass variants, and related music prevailed.
How about in 17th, 18th, and 19th century Europe? Was classical music wildly popular then, something like rock was in the 60s? Or was it more of a cerebral pursuit and the province of the well to do?
Yes, that gets us into a debate on what precisely do I mean by “classical music,” but I’m hoping you get the idea and can erase a small portion of my ignorance.