most good things end up "middlebrow"
liking Velvet Underground is middlebrow, Can and Neu! are close to middlebrow now
it's not an intrinsic property of a piece of music, or a novel or film - it's a stage in the dissemination of it to a large audience - basically as soon as it ceases to the preserve of the early adopter / hip etc, and finds a wider audience, it becomes designated middlebrow.
it's a reflex in snobbery and the self-definition of oneself as part of the vanguard of taste
Jane Austen is middlebrow, Van Gogh is middlebrow - doesn't mean that they a/ aren't excellent and b/ once innovative in their moment
i'm getting a horrible sense of deja vu suddenly, i think i've written these very same thoughts in a Dissensus thread in the mid-2000s
i wouldn't be surprised if the phrasing was almost word for word
Matthew Ingram wrote something defending middlebrow as part of his defence of Paul McCartney. It was probably in response to that.