I never hear this question. Can the Dutch Masters be saved?
Why isn't anyone worried about Rembrandt? Because Rembrandt is taken care of. He doesn't need saving. He has his place in museums. His work is preserved. Anyone who wants the benefit of art from the past can find it. The work of the Dutch Masters is preserved and none of them are alive today, practicing their art, and in need of saving.
Outside of the museum there is a whole world of artists creating and connecting today. Museums are fine and wonderful and important, for preservation. The world of the living is where creation resides. Creation is what we do now. On the other hand, preservation is what we do for those who once created, but create no more.
I am, in part, a classical pianist. When I play the music of Chopin or Beethoven, I am preserving historic creations. I think it is important and beautiful to do that, just as I think it is important and beautiful to preserve art in museums. Nor is history preserved in a museum lifeless in spirit. The best art possesses a humanity that transcends time, and I strive for my musical preservations in performance and recording to connect as meaningfully to listening audiences as if they were viewing Vermeer in a museum.
Meanwhile, I scale my expectations. Preservation is not mainstream. It isn't popular. I don't expect it to be, since classical music is not the creation of the living. Haydn isn't meant to be mainstream again. He already was once before. He was popular and successful in his day. I don't expect him to remain so today.
Classical music wasn't always classical music. It was once new music. It isn't now. The works I preserve as a classical musician aren't the works of the living. I don't feel slighted by audiences who identify primarily with art of today, created by artists of today, over art preserved from the past, and I don't strive to make classical music popular now. I try to make genuine, human connections with a segment of the music listening audience who want to connect with timeless values preserved from history, like in a fine museum.
That segment of the music listening audience isn't going away, any more than the audience for classic portraiture is going away, but these are not growth industries. They are not supposed to be. The audience for musical preservation (AKA classical music) is a narrow segment, and I'm at peace with that.
Yes, the best classical music should be preserved. No, classical music should not be saved, it isn't in peril and doesn't need it. New art from the living merits saving.