Postcards was written in 1991 for the Vega Wind Quintet, who first performed it at the Huddersfield Festival in the same year. It is a reworking of a set of eight Bagatelles written in 1965: each movement has been rewritten and enlarged to a greater or lesser extent. The title was chosen to emphasise the nature of the pieces, which are in a sense brief postcards from different genres (fugato, dance, etc).
John McCabe (1939-2015) was a British composer, pianist and music administrator. He studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music and built a career as a virtuoso pianist. However, he also wrote several hundred musical compositions, ranging from large-scale orchestral works to chamber music and solo instrumental pieces - it is said the only classical genre he did not write for was opera.