The objective here is ""to examine informally the history of opera houses, orchestras, impresarios and patrons, and to come to some conclusions about the way musical institutions have been molded."" This is a thorough, lively investigation of the dis-concert-ed efforts to bring culture to the country. Ironically, one of its biggest pushes was given by the lowbrow ""patron saint of promotion,"" P. T. Barnum, with the pack 'em in buildup he gave to Jenny Lind. Later there was a chicken in every pot and a Steinway in every parlor, due to the promotion given pianists like Paderewski (who blew his first concert, practised nonstop for 24 hours and triumphed in his second). Then there was Henry Abbey who started the Metropolitan Opera House and ended up as a fiscal failure; the making of the Philharmonic and its competitor the Boston Symphony; the sponsorship of Mrs. William Astor and Ward McAllister who made the Opera a Monday night must; Oscar Hammerstein who started an operatic war; monopolies; Sol Hurok, the impresario of our time; and finally Lincoln Center and the great acoustics debate . . . not to mention the commotion over certain Ford Foundation Grants. Can the Center hold? Interesting, and certainly good for high browsing.