Born 1961 in Bonn, studied musicology, German language and literature and philosophy in Frankfurt/M. and Göttingen. After his doctorate on 18th century opera and a six-month scholarship in Venice at the German Study Centre, Esch continued to publish academic works, especially on Mozart and Haydn. For many years he worked as a music theatre and theatre dramaturge, permanently and freelance, in Frankfurt, Innsbruck and Munich, among other places.
He regularly wrote reviews and essays for daily newspapers, radio and specialist press. As a producer and editor, he developed and was responsible for concerts and series throughout the state for the Hessischer Rundfunk, programmed various concert formats with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, among others, produced CD recordings and regularly hosted broadcasts. Esch was on the music advisory board of the Goethe-Institut for many years and taught at various universities. He has published widely on art and culture and is a regular jury member (e.g. for the European Cultural Foundation).
He has been director of the NRW KULTURsekretariat since 2004. In 2013, Esch received the Grimme Online Award. In 2015-16 he advised the city of Duisburg on cultural development planning. Active on the board of the NRW Cultural Council. Since 2019, advisory board of the Academy for Theatre and Digitality. Most recently, his book "Immer auch ein politischer Impuls" on the composer and music researcher Juan Allende-Blin (co-author: Frank Schneider, Kamprad, 2017) was published.