HARTSDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ Forty-three years after Hungarian composer Bela Bartok died, his remains today began a two-week trip to his homeland.

Following a farewell ceremony attended by 150 U.S. and Hungarian dignitaries, family, friends and fans, the composer's remains embarked on a trip by sea and land to the Budapest cemetery where Bartok's wife and mother are buried.

''He was very Hungarian, but we know he and his wife's work belong to the whole world. He is international,'' said Gyorgy Banlaki, the Hungarian consul, at the ceremony at Ferncliff Cemetery, where the coffin was exhumed Tuesday.

The coffin, packed in a shipping crate festooned with ribbons in the Hungarian colors of red, white and green, sat near the gravesite.

A simple metal grave marker was removed and replaced with one that read, in Hungarian and English: ''The first resting place of Bela Bartok. ... Remains removed to Farkasret Cemetery, Budapest, Hungary, following June 25, 1988.''

Plans call for the remains to depart on the Queen Elizabeth 2 on Saturday, accompanied by Bartok's sons, Peter, 64, of Homosass, Fla., and Bela, 78, of Budapest. They are to arrive in Southampton, England amid fanfare, concerts and a message from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The ship then will head for France and from Cherbourg, the sons will accompany the body through France, Germany and Austria before arriving in Hungary.

Concerts and recitals will highlight the trip, including a performance of the Orchestre de Paris conducted by Hungarian-born conductor Sir Georg Solti.

After a public display of the coffin, Bartok will finally be laid to rest on July 7 in the Farkasret Cemetery.

The decision to take the body to Hungary was made by the composer's sons.

Born in 1881, Bartok's music celebrated the folk tradition of his country. A piano virtuoso, he came to this country in 1940 on tour and never returned because of the devastation of World War II.

He died of leukemia in 1945 at age 64 and was buried without fanfare in Ferncliff, the final resting place of singer Judy Garland, TV personality Ed Sullivan, movie star Joan Crawford, actor Basil Rathbone, civil rights leader Whitney Young, singer-actor Paul Robeson and black radical leader Malcolm X, among others.