Elaborating just a bit on my last posting:
You don't need to read too far back in music history to find out that up until some time in 19th or 20th century, what we now called classical music was popular music. By that, I mean that you didn't have to be an educated musician or a member of a particular economic stratum to have an active interest in notational music. Middle-class people had pianos, played them, and looked forward to receiving the piano arrangement of a symphony or opera aria, because otherwise, especially if they lived far from a big city, they might never hear that work in its original form. (If you don't believe me, find any piece of early 20th century sheet music by Ricordi and look at the number of arrangements that were available of, say, arias from La boheme, for all sorts of unlikely combinations of instruments.) Amateur choruses thrived (and still do; perhaps this is the last outpost of what "classical" music once looked like). All those secular part songs, from madrigals to the Haydn part-songs to the Liebeslieder Waltzes, were written to be performed at home, not in a concert setting. Mozart was a popular composer, writing in popular genres such as the Singspiel. Up until comparatively recently in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, Catholics could hear a rather complicated repertory of liturgical music written for performance as part of services. Ordinary people went to the opera and considered it entertainment. Classical music was part of a continuum of just plain music.
How notational music became confined to big professional institutions and came to be viewed as an "elite art form" is a complicated story, affected by such diverse factors as social and musical developments in the U.S., the professionalization of musicology and theory the history of recorded music, music's change from something performed by all to something consumed by all (the shift from playing to buying recordings of others playing), the development of amplification and electric instruments of various kinds, changes in the school systems, etc., etc., etc.
But it's ahistorical to the point of ignorance to insist that classical music is inherently an "elite" form or that attempts to make classical music more accessible to more people (economically, socially, culturally) are in any way wrong-headed. They're just returning classical music to the social position it used to occupy.
Minor Update, 3/9/07: Corrected the posting title.