The Kennedy Center Presents (PBS, 8-9 p.m.): I've heard of grand exits, but this may top the list. Mstislav Rostropovich, whom critics have called the greatest cellist in the world and who is also a noted pianist, stepped down last June after 17 years as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra.
``A Salute to Slava'' (``Slava'' is his nickname), taped June 17 in the Kennedy Center, includes performances in tribute by renowned musicians and conductors. Distinguished figures offer farewell comments from a huge video screen in the concert hall. The guest of honor will sit in the presidential box with Queen Sofia of Spain and Washington luminaries. At one point, he is escorted to the stage, through tumultuous applause, to conduct the orchestra himself.
If all that isn't enough, the inspiring story of his life is recounted in film and music. It's a saga of musical leadership and human-rights activism, including a triumphant 1990 return to Russia after many years. Violinist Isaac Stern and flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal are just two of the big-name artists taking part.
High School II (PBS, 9 p.m.-12:45 a.m.): One of America's leading documentary filmmakers is going back to school. In 1968, Fred Wiseman caused a flap with his first ``High School,'' shot in suburban Philadelphia. Instead of an idyllic middle-class center of learning, a rigidly run place was revealed, one that seemed designed to repress any genuine quest for knowledge.
A good part of the film's impact was Wiseman's unusual and powerful film style, the one he uses in all his now-renowned portraits of American institutions. He includes no narration, telling his story from scenes carefully selected from thousands of feet of film.
This time the subject is much more promising. The film focuses on day-to-day life at New York City's Central Park East Secondary School, where motivation, cooperation, and hope counter the prevailing image of inner-city schools. Wiseman's camera pokes into faculty meetings, classrooms, and other corners of this remarkable place.
Please check local listings for these programs.