I believe the symptoms of classical music's decline are the same here in Europe as in the USA and Canada. People get pop and rap rammed into their ears wherever they go, whether they want it or not. There is no choice, and no escape - pop is EVERYWHERE. Have people asked for that or has it just grown like that and now most people don't know any different anymore? It seems like a classic chicken-egg problem. Also, subsidizing classical music has become rather unfashionable. Here in Holland, there even was talk about abandoning the only official classical FM station (all others have gone digital already). A storm of public protest (hurraahh !!!) prevented that. It is sad to see though that some great orchestras have been killed or merged into other ones, with the sole purpose of cutting costs.
For sure, if classical music got its fair chance on TV, radio, and in education, things would be different. But hear you go, nobody's interested in classical, so why give it to them. My kids at school have music projects, like writing a rap song and doing a project on pop artist so-and-so. They have no clue what a symphony is, or what Bach and Beethoven did. I believe this is where it starts, or ought to start. Very strange as they DO learn some about art, literature ancient mythology, etc. But music seems to be the odd one out.
As a result, classical music is being pushed back to the margins and being the folly of the happy few. As youth sees it, only old and boring people bother with it.
Yet it would be too easy to conclude that classical music is dying. If you see the enormous numbers of concertos and music festivals, the continuus influx of extremely talented and skilled (young) musicians, and the staggering amount of material available, both on CD, internet, and printed copy - much of which was never even heard of 10 years before - one can only conclude that us happy few have got it good, and that ain't bad.
One other thing I observe - for every classical artist 'going pop' there seems to be a pop artist 'going classical'. On one hand this cross-over mixing of styles mostly dilutes classical music (people who suggest the two are ever remotely equal should get an education), on the other hand it gets classical music out of its elitist image. Despite pop is ervywhere, I think more people are recently getting exposed to classical music, even if it is only the music-for-millions kind of it.
Let's also not forget film music which if often of a high caliber, and not so far away from classical music. Think of John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and the like. It would not be a big step to appreciate music like The Planets and the Pines of Rome. Strangely, my kids love this kind of stuff, and would even listen to classical bits provided they had been in a movie or on tv.
So, conflicting signs as I see it. The overall picture is worrying, but on closer look there are good things as well. At least here in Holland (which has no famous local composer either) there still is a strong musical scene - one of the world's top orchestras, a world-leading tradition in ancient music, and more.
I had not suspected things to be particularly alarming in Canada though. With so much fabulous musicians like Hewitt, Lortie, Hamelin, Tafelmusik, and the Montreal Symphony, there surely seem to be going on something there ?
And look further, at the far east, where young poeple seem to be crazy about classical music. Seems like they are taking it far more serious than we westerners do. If the west would take an example to that, things may turn for the better.
Ah well, rant over - for now. Need to do some work